‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?’ (Mark 8:36). What else matters?
Profit is something that I am sure will occupy the minds of us all sooner or later. No one can maintain any human enterprise unless it is profitable in one way or another. And, of course, in the world of investment ‘profit’ is really all that matters.
Well, let us see what the great master Jesus Christ has to say about profit. He boldly and, it seems, bluntly asks what advantage it would be if a person should own the whole world and lose his soul.
The whole world: all the people of the world (perhaps as servants to do one’s bidding); all the territory of the world; all the property of the world; all the honours of the world — we could go on, but you get the point. The way Jesus phrases this is mind-boggling. One cannot imagine what it would be to own and control the world.
And yet ‘What would it matter?’ says the Saviour, if one would have it all and lose your soul. Here we see, in stark contrast, time and eternity.
In time, we have many things to enjoy and experience, but they are all, by the nature of things, temporary. All life on earth comes to an end and, with it, all passes away.
But the soul, the immortal part of our being that will survive death, will spend eternity in either heaven or hell. How worthless, how meaningless, how useless (comparatively speaking) will the blessings of this world seem, if our soul perishes in separation from God.
Down here on earth we see people, yes, including Christians, busying themselves to get ahead in this world. They rise up early and stay up late to make money. They strive and struggle; they plan and promote, sweat and strain to have the things of this world.
That is natural, I suppose, for God has created us to want to be comfortable and successful. And yet there is that whole matter of priorities. What is most important to us: the salvation of us and our loved ones; or earthly power, privilege and position?
Join me in listing briefly things that are in themselves of great value, but, in comparison to spiritual values, pale in importance. Think of:
Whether prince or a pauper, whether a power broker or, relatively speaking, a cork on the water of life; whether we live in a gated community among the elite of this world, or in a hut in a slum, in the end, our position in this world does not matter.
Modern science and modern medicine have done a wonderful job in giving us a better standard of living and longer existence on earth. Yes, physical health is a blessing. But many believers are bedridden and in constant pain. If they know the Lord, they are the privileged ones.
To many people, net worth is the same as self-worth; when they add up their property and savings, they can rest comfortably. The Christian can praise God for his or her physical blessings, yet they know that a relationship with Christ is far more important than financial or any other worth.
Honours and trophies
One sees on the sports networks exuberant people holding up their glittering trophies, symbolic of the success they have had in competition. They were faster, stronger, more skilled (or maybe they just somehow won through!), and so they triumphed. But those trophies will tarnish and eventually be somewhere in a junk yard.
Think with me for a moment. How many people do you know who have made a saving interest in Jesus Christ the primary goal of they lives? Look at how they spend their time, talent and treasure.
Listen to their talk; it reflects what is on their minds. Look around you, and you will see that, spiritually speaking, most people are fools. They labour for that which is perishing and neglect the priceless pearl of knowing Jesus.
John F. Thornbury