An elderly gentleman’s hearing reached the point where he needed a hearing aid. He did some investigating and found that a good one would cost him $8,000. Not being willing to pay that much, he kept searching until he found a company that advertised one for a mere $8. So, he went down to the company’s location and was met by a salesman. He told the salesman, “I’d like to see one of your $8 hearing aids.” The salesman promptly pulled out a button attached to a string and said, “Just stick this button in your ear and run this string down to your pocket.” The elderly fellow studied the flimsy contraption for a moment and asked, “How exactly does this thing work?” The salesman said, “It doesn’t, but when people see you wearing it, they’ll talk louder.”
Many times we Christians operate like that elderly gentleman in that we try to find easier ways of addressing our problems. But you know what? Sometimes there just isn’t an easier way, not if we want the issue truly resolved. Sure, you can put a band-aid on a shotgun wound, but all that will do is enable you to feel like you’ve done something when you really haven’t.
Our churches, in particular, are notorious for taking the “button on a string” approach to serious problems. “What’s the least we can get by with?” “What’s the cheapest way to fix it?” “What’s the easiest way around this situation?” These questions and others like them ring throughout our churches almost as much as the tolling of our church bells. And if solving a problem requires having a face-to-face encounter with a difficult person, well, that’s when we get wildly inventive in developing new buttons and new strings.
I’m so glad that when Jesus addressed the problem of mankind’s sins, He didn’t take the devil’s shortcut. That shortcut was offered directly to Him by Satan himself during Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. As part of that temptation, Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6). That, you see, was Satan’s attempt at getting Jesus to miss the cross. It was his way of saying, “Jesus, you can have the rule of the world without having to die for the sins of the people who occupy the world.” Jesus, however, refused to take that shortcut. Instead, He set His face toward Jerusalem and the crucifixion death He would die there (Luke 9:51).
Could it be that you are right now facing a specific problem for which you have competing solutions? One solution is the harder one, the correct one, the Lord’s required course of action. The other solution is the easier one, the wrong one, the devil’s shortcut. Like that elderly gentleman, you can take the button-and-string approach, but you’ll just have to revisit the problem again, won’t you? That’s why I encourage you to set your face toward that more difficult solution the Lord wants you to perform. No, that solution won’t be easy, and, yes, it might cost you something. The good news, though, is that it will carry its own reward with it in that it will give you the deep-settled inner peace that only comes from doing God’s will. That inner peace, of course, is priceless, and I hope you’ll agree with me that it sure does beat walking around with a button in your ear.