“Pay now or pay later” is the commonly overused mantra of insurance agents and auto mechanics. How do I know the idiom is overused? Because I saw a mechanic use it in a television commercial. (You know times are tough when auto mechanics have to start advertising.) In the advertisement, the mechanic held a $5 oil filter in his hand as he said, “Pay me now, or pay me later.” The idea behind the commercial was that it is wiser to invest in a cheap oil filter now than to have to pay $1,500 for a new engine later.

The same concept applies to our observance of the truths contained in God’s Word. When we reach a section which brings conviction or which challenges us to do something difficult, we have the choice between paying now or paying later. If we pay now and do the difficult task God instructs us to do, then the end result will be a blessed and prosperous life — a small price to pay for a great benefit. If, on the other hand, we delay our obedience or ignore the commands God gives us, then we will pay later — and pay dearly. Our lives will be filled with heartache and ruin. We will search for peace, but it will forever elude us because we have traded immediate relief for future disaster.

There is a price to pay upfront for peace of mind and fellowship with God, usually in the form of minor changes which must be made on our part. We may have to change our perspective of some issues. God may want us to spend more time in His Word instead of in front of the television (watching commercials about mechanics). We may need to shift our priorities or change our habits. We may need to confess and forsake our sins. This is a small price to pay in light of the benefit we will receive (and in light of the consequences of neglect).

Have you been trying to evade an issue God has brought to light in your life? Humble yourself and invest in a cheap oil filter. The mechanic is right: it will save you the heartache and expense of a damaged engine.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.