What Trade-Off Do You Need to Make This Month?

As I’ve blogged about before, I use a paper calendar and a Sharpie marker to keep myself getting up early every morning and getting a workout in.  But since the end of August, I now use two calendars(!): one’s still my workout calendar, while the other is a scripture-reading calendar that’s part of the “Eat This Book” campaign in my church.  Here’s my scripture calendar for September:

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Pretty good, right?  (It doesn’t hurt that I’m trying to blog about the Eat This Book reading every day.  I did end up missing a few days last week; maybe I need a blogging calendar, too….)

September Is the Cruelest Month

Unfortunately, I’ve not been as consistent in working out.  In fact, September was my worst month so far this year.  Here’s my workout calendar for September:

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What happened?  You could say that I became a lazy slob (and you wouldn’t be far wrong), but more specifically, here’s the truth: I didn’t make the trade-offs necessary to get a workout in every morning.

There Are Always Trade-offs

I read a book this summer that reminded me of a principle that I already knew but often choose to ignore: everything in life comes with a cost; everything requires a trade-off.  If you say “Yes” here, it means saying “No” there.  This principle obviously applies to time management, but it also applies to much bigger life choices.  And it’s a principle that the Israelites learned at the foot of Mount Sinai and that we can read about in Exodus 33.

What’s the Problem With A Little Jewelry?

While Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites are having an idolatrous revel [Exodus 32].  They even make a golden calf and begin to worship it.  On returning, Moses is furious, has the golden calf  melted down and ground into dust, and then collects all the jewelry that the Israelites possess and forbids jewelry among the Israelites from that point forward [Exodus 33:4-6].  Why?  What’s the problem with Israelite jewelry?

Every “Yes” Requires a “No”

The Lord knew that if the Israelites kept their pagan gold and other jewelry, they would be tempted over and over again to idolatry, because the original golden calf was made out of the jewelry and ornaments the Israelites were wearing [cf. Exodus 32:1-3].  If the Israelites were going to turn from idolatry, they needed to make a clean break, and apparently even their jewelry might have been an occasion for sin and idolatry.

No Exceptions

There are always trade-offs, without exception.

  • Saying yes to your spouse means saying no to everyone else.  Marriage requires exclusivity and priority, or else it doesn’t work.
  • Saying yes to financial freedom at age 60 means saying no to the kind of expenses your friends are racking up in their 30s.
  • Saying yes to sobriety means saying no to hanging out with your bar-hopping friends.

There is no exception to the trade-off principle.  There are no short-cuts.

It’s a New Month

Today is October 1.  What new beginning can you make this month?  What trade-off can you intentionally make?  What are you going to have to give up in order to get something better?  Maybe it’s time to take off your pagan jewelry and throw it in the fire.  (You do understand that’s a metaphor, right?)

P.S.

I got to bed really late last night and really didn’t want to get up at 5:00 AM this morning.  But more than I wanted to stay in bed, I wanted to have a series of black “X’s” in my calendar, and I wanted the first day of the month to be a good one.  So I traded a bit more sleep for something better this morning.  And here is what I have to show for it:

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So far so good.

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