There sits what could quite possibly be the softest, cutest, and most lovable stuffed animal ever to exist. You insert a couple of shinny quarters and those 20 seconds start counting down. The claw begins to move at your command. You look from the front, then from each side. You meticulously adjust the claw so it lines up perfectly. Satisfied, you push the red button and the claw drops. The grabber lands directly on the plush animal and the claw closes. Then, as if it had the grip strength of a dead fish, the animal slips right through the claw’s grasp. But you dare not stop there. You almost had it! Two more quarters go in. Same result. Fifty cents more and it pulls the animal up slightly then slips out. After 3 dollars have been placed into fate of the metal claws, you walk away empty handed and frustrated. Does this sound familiar?
Many of us have put more money into these machines than we would like to admit. However, there is good news and bad news. The good news is, the animal you were trying to get is probably still in the machine. The bad news is, these machines are rigged.
Perhaps this isn’t too shocking, but at least now we have confirmation. Vox recently took a look at how these machines work. Basically, the owner of the machine can program the grip strength of the claw and even to make the claw drop the animal just before it reaches the prize chute. The owner will determine how much the game costs (50 cents), how much each animal costs (about $5), and how much profit they want to make (lets say 50%). This means the claw will grip super light about 15-20 times before it will finally gives enough strength to get a prize, but only if the person did a good enough job lining it up. So, the reason we can’t ever seem to win the prize isn’t our fault, it’s the machine’s (Vox).
Too often Christians live with a claw machine game mentality. We are playing in a world which operates from different standards than that of God. Yet we go through life making some of the same earth minded decisions and hope for different results (Romans 12:1-2). We fall back into the same old bad habits (Ephesians 4:27). We start hanging around those worldly influences again (1 Corinthians 15:33). We let some of those old sins come creeping back in (Romans 7:14-15). We start allowing jobs, school, and hobbies to become our priority (Luke 10:27). It can be a vicious cycle.
With vivid imagery Peter warned, “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire’” (2:20-22).
There is nothing worth risking eternity for (Mark 8:36-37). Let’s stop playing the claw machine game of this world. True meaning and value isn’t found on this earth, even if we get a little prize from time to time. Let’s look for treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). If we do this, we will win every single time!