A few years ago, there was a TV ad showing a young boy coming into the house. His mother asked him, “What have you been doing today?” The little boy responded, “Oh, trading stuff,” as the camera pans down to show his pockets bulging with all kinds of trading goods.
I smiled when I first saw that ad because the little boy reminded me so much of myself at that age. I was always trading things! I’d find something, walk a few blocks, and then trade it for something else. My uncle told me I should find something of value, and then keep trading up until I could trade it for a Cadillac! I never did that, but a few years back I saw a story of a young man who started with a paper clip and ended up with a house—all through a series of trades of increasing value.
Most don’t remember a trade of equal value, but when something valuable is traded for something relatively worthless it is not easily forgotten. History records some pretty amazing trades! Manhattan Island for a few dollars’ worth of beads and trinkets, and Esau’s birthright for a bowl of soup. But we have been given a gift from God, and we should realize that value is far too precious to ever trade away.
In a video shown at the Feast of Tabernacles some years back, a young lady being interviewed was asked what she thought of her experience at summer camp. She emphatically responded, “Oh, I wouldn’t trade this for the world!”
That’s an interesting but common expression; and one that contains a profound truth. As I heard her say those words, I thought back to the hundreds of men and women I had known who did trade God’s way of life for a life in this world. It wasn’t that they disliked the people in the Church, or that they had doctrinal disagreements; but the pull of this world had drawn them away from the things of God.
About 30 years ago, I gave a sermon to the young people of our congregation expounding on this subject of Christians departing from the faith. I asked them all to pass around a photograph as I spoke. It was a photo of all the young people in our church area 20 years earlier. I explained that only three or four of us from that group were still in the Church. What’s even more disappointing is that most of those young people also left God’s way.
THREE BAD TRADES
Life is filled with trades. We trade our time and our talents for wages, and then we take that money and trade it for various goods and services we need. This trading analogy can provide us with valuable insight to keep us from ever trading what God has given us for what Satan offers.
Think about Esau’s trade for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34 Genesis 25:29-34  And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray you, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
 And Jacob said, Sell me this day your birthright.
 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swore to him: and he sold his birthright to Jacob.
 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
American King James Version×). This is very similar to the trade that many make for the way of this world. Esau’s bad trade wasn’t evident to him at the time, but look at the vast wealth of the Western world and see just how physically valuable that birthright really was (for more on that, search “the biblical origins of the Arab peoples at ucg.org).
Genesis records two other trades where those involved lost even more than Esau did.
The first trade is in Genesis 19, where Lot’s wife traded her life for one last look at this world—disobeying God’s clear instruction. While Esau lost a valuable birthright, Lot’s wife traded away the most valuable thing she had—her life!
The other trade is in the third chapter of Genesis. This is the ultimate bad deal because it went far beyond material wealth or physical life and into the spiritual realm. Adam and Eve traded a lifelong walk with God and the peace of His way of life for a piece of fruit! In reality, what they received was the beginning of this present evil world we live in.
LESSONS FOR US TODAY
If you are a young person in the Church, you stand between those same two trees just as much as Adam and Eve did, and you will also have to choose.
Satan wants to make the same trade with you as he did with your ancestors in the Garden of Eden. He wants to trade you his way of life (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) in exchange for God’s way of life (the tree of life). That forbidden fruit they chose represented Satan’s world—the same thing Lot’s wife traded for.
These three stories are extremely relevant in our world today. They perfectly portray what so many Christians have easily and quickly forfeited:
The physical and financial security that accompanies a godly birthright, as illustrated by Esau.
Physical deliverance out of a society when it crumbles and collapses upon itself, as illustrated by Lot and his wife.
A God-filled life of joy and accomplishment, as illustrated by what Adam and Eve had within their grasp.
DON’T MAKE THE DEAL!
You can learn a lot by observing two people making a trade. Satan is a master barterer who cunningly works on our minds in ways that are very similar to the dynamics of many trades today. He first tries to persuade you to trade by discounting the value of what you presently have within your grasp, and then repackaging the things of this world so they appear irresistible.
“All this I will give You,” he said, “if You will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9 Matthew 4:9And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
American King James Version×, NIV). An offer from Satan to trade the world for the throne of Christ. It’s the same old trade—this world, which is ultimately all that Satan has to trade. He has nothing else of value to offer. He has no truth, love or loyalty to give. No faith or forgiveness. Nothing positive or pure. Nothing of worth that any child of God should want. He only has this world to trade, because as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×), he has the entire world right there in his pocket—just like that little boy in the ad.
Opportunities for bad trades are going to present themselves many times in your life. If you never take the things of God to heart, you won’t even realize that the only other option is a terrible trade. Think of what God has offered or maybe already has given to you—those precious promises that both encompass and transcend this present life. And think of the words spoken by that teenage girl in the Church video.
If I were you, “I wouldn’t trade this—for the world.”