Nothing is Actually Free

Years ago, one of my best friends told me “Nothing is actually free.”  We were talking about a free lunch I won.  He said, “Sure, it’s free to you. But somebody paid for it.”

Never forgotten that.  And it’s completely true.

That free CD you got – somebody paid for it.  That free ticket to the show?  Somebody ponied up. That free replacement of your defective BluRay player?  The store or the company absorbed the cost.

Realizing this made me much more grateful for every ‘free’ thing I received.  Someone paid.  It just wasn’t me.

Now, that’s also true of grace.  We speak pretty loosely about grace being free.  We even talk about grace being limitless.

And that’s true.  But it’s only free to the recipient.  And it’s only limitless because somebody is willing to pay the price.  So when we receive grace from God, it cost God something.

And today, grace might cost you.  If you are going to offer it, it will be expensive. Real grace (undeserved love) doesn’t happen when there’s a mis-understanding that gets cleared up.  Real grace doesn’t happen when someone apologizes and makes the situation right.  Real grace is extended when someone wrongs you and you forgive them.  Real grace is extended when you decide not to engage the battle or treat wrong with wrong, but to love anyway.  And it hurts.  It will cost you something – you are giving of yourself something you’d rather not.  But you do it anyway.

Once I understood that, grace – real grace – ironically became easier to give. It was going to cost, but I just have to decide to pay the price on someone else’s behalf.

So go give grace freely today.  Just remember it’s expensive.  It will cost you something.  And when you receive it from God, remember it cost him something too.

Because nothing is actually free.


  1. Carol Penfound on February 20, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Understanding what it costs another to give up for us….yes
    That is what it means to live in Christ to give up for others, the body if you will (as it all works together (community))
    Another twist on this topic: I remember as a kid getting excited about a sale, and my father said “Everything is always on sale” Knowing the cost of our decisions is extremely important, living in Christ knowing Gods truth is the only way we can make good decisions (having all the facts)

  2. Chris Barker on February 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    This puts words to what I’ve been learning as of late. If people magically understood this when they got married I bet there would be much less divorce in our cultures.

    • Carey on February 20, 2011 at 6:06 am

      That’s a great application Chris. Thanks!

  3. Sabine on February 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I agree, nothing is really free! It costs something to someone. But – in many cases- we who received something free forget to be thankful. We just accepted the “free” gift. Wow, something for me, something free.

    But – imagine that someone did something for you without knowing you or that you know the person. How privileged we are to get something….and should it not be the simplest way if we make something for someone free?

    Even a smile to another person is not free….for you…it just costs you a movement of your muscles!!!


    Warm regards from far far away!


  4. Jonathan on February 19, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Great stuff on Grace! What a great way to describe the power and cost of free grace.

    • Carey on February 19, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      Thanks Jonathan…think I might build our Easter series around this….

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