sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2011

Let's Make A Deal

By Ronald W. Nikkel
I don’t like paying full price for anything, and there is something about bargaining or haggling to get the best possible purchase price that I really enjoy. Several years ago, while in Korea, I went shopping for a leather garment bag and must have visited five or six different shops to obtain the lowest price possible. When I finally made my purchase I was proud of myself for having made a deal that was several dollars less than my colleagues who had purchased the same kind of bag at another shop.

The give-and-take of haggling over a purchase price is an ancient practice born during the dawn of commerce when goods and services were exchanged on the basis of bartering and deal-making. Bartering extended not only to commerce but to social relationships as when the parents of a young man and young woman would agree on the terms of a dowry in exchange for the woman’s hand in marriage. Ironically, while dowries and arranged marriages are a diminishing practice, alimony and property settlements have become the deal-making basis of marital separation and divorce in contemporary society.

The opening biblical stories in Genesis reflect our human propensity for deal-making, even in relationship with God. Abraham negotiated tenaciously with God for the possibility of sparing the city of Sodom and its inhabitants from being destroyed.[i] Esau bargained away his spiritual blessing and family inheritance for a bowl of savory soup prepared by his brother Jacob.[ii] Many years later, on the eve of trepidation over his pending reunion with Esau, Jacob wrestled with the Lord – refusing to break his hold unless God would bless him.[iii]

“I won’t believe in God, unless he gets me out of here,” is a fairly common proposition I hear among prisoners. Among some inmates who have fallen away from faith in God I often hear the refrain of another deal being put forward – “God, if you get me out of this mess, I’ll serve you for the rest of my life!” It’s almost laughable except that I remember all the prayers by which I also have bargained for God’s favour in exchange for my renewed obedience, or for God to spare me from the consequence of my misdeeds in exchange for the reformation of my ways.

Four years ago my daily jogging routine came to an abrupt end due to knee injuries. Even following surgery and therapy, my knees have not returned to normal. Then one day this week I made up my mind to run again, to risk the pain and just give it one more try. Much to my own amazement I was able to run, not very far at all or long, but I was running and I loved it. As I was running, I found myself praying something like this, “God – if you fix my knees and let me run again, I’ll do anything for you – I’ll love you more than ever before – just let me run again.”

My short and breathy prayer was overtaken by what I knew to be the word of the Lord – “Ron, I want you to love me and to serve me for my own sake and not for what I can do for you or for what you want from me. Remember that I love you, not because you are good or strong or because of the talks you give, or the prisoners you visit, or the books you write. I love you because of you. My love is not a barter deal!”

What could I say? I’d really like to be able to run again, but whether I ever can or not is not a measure of God’s love for me; nor are my obedience and love the means of barter to make a deal with Him. Neither you nor I can make a deal for the love of God, for God is love.

…absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Neither the imposter nor the Pharisee,
neither the lack of awareness nor the lack of passion,
neither the negative judgments of others

nor the debased perception of ourselves,
neither our scandalous past nor our uncertain future,
neither the power struggles in the church

nor the tensions in our marriage,
nor fear, guilt, shame, self-hatred, nor even death
can tear us away from the love of God…[iv]


[i] Genesis 16:18-33
[ii] Genesis 25:29-34
[iii] Genesis 32:22-30
[iv] Manning, Brennan “Abba’s Child” (Navpress, 1994 p.160)


Ronald W. Nikkel, PFI President & CEO
Ron has served as PFI's president since 1982. Widely recognized as an expert on criminal justice issues, Ron has visited more than 1,000 prisons in every region of the world and met with church and political leaders, as well as criminal justice officials.

Ron's new devotional book Radical Love in a Broken World, featuring daily meditations, is now available on as is his previous book Your Journey with Jesus.

To Learn more about Prison Fellowship International, visit

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Mensagem de boas-vindas

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Presidente da FIAR