GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
A Brutal Fact
By Keith L. Estes
There is a very interesting and perhaps startling statement presented by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. It reads, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
This verse is rife with meaning and when examined closely reveals a lot about humanity and its destiny. Let’s examine that word profit first. Just about everything we do has a profit motive. Profit often takes on a bad reputation. To some, if you profit, you are taking advantage of another. I recall a woman in a store lambasting the owner because of the prices. She said, “Just look at the prices you are charging, they are outrageous. This is too much and that price is way out of line.” She kept complaining and complaining. Finally the owner quieted her and said, “You may not like our prices but I want you to know that I have to make a certain profit or I will be unable to pay our help and keep this store open. I refuse to lower my prices to satisfy you and have to go out of business.” The woman became calm when she learned the brutal facts.
Recently, on TV, Rick Warren asked questions of the two presidential candidates about what being rich monetarily meant. One replied a person was rich with $250,000, the other said $5,000,000. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says, “They are but beggars that can count their worth.” For those that trust in their riches Jesus reminds us, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: (greed) for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Another answer that could have been given to Rick’s question, would be that a person is rich that makes more money than I do.
What Jesus is saying in this verse, in the gospel of Matthew, is basically this; all of our efforts to aspire to gain the whole world would be futile if we do not consider the higher and more important aspect of our eternal welfare. Christ is the one who has obtained our redemption, He is the one that died for us, and He is the one that gives us eternal life through trusting in Him. There is an old hymn that says, “Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption, the blood of the cross is my only salvation.”
The Apostle Paul reminds us that, “If in this world only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Cor. 15:19) This world in reality is just a proving ground for eternity. What a shame it would be if we gained the whole world and lost our soul. Someone else said, “Too low they build who build beneath the stars.”
There are many theories that people believe in but in reality will lead us astray. Here’s one. “I believe if I work hard and give my family the very best of everything, and treat people right, I will be accepted by God.” Huxley said, “There is no sadder sight in the world than to see a beautiful theory killed by a brutal fact.” The brutal fact is this, God does not accept us on the basis of what we do, but on the basis of what His Son accomplished for us on the cross. Another brutal fact is “There is a way which seems right unto a man; but the end thereof is the way of death (Absence from God). (Prov. 14:12) Another Hymn says, “If I gained the world and had not Jesus, would my life be worth living for a day; could my yearning heart find rest and comfort in those things that soon must pass away.”
When Thomas asked Jesus about the way, Jesus responded by saying. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) The way of the cross leads home.
John Wesley writes, “We ought to earn as much money as we can, save as much as we can and give as much as we can.” We cannot serve God and mammon.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Reference: The Holy Bible