“For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
It’s a great question! And it’s as timely today as it was over 2,000 years ago when Jesus first posed it to His disciples and the crowd that had gathered in Mark 8:37.
What will a person give in exchange for his or her own soul? Look around. Look inside. Why do people reject Christ’s offer to free them from sin and its curse of eternal death? Why did we until God took hold of our hearts?
Some people don’t believe they have souls. They live for the moment because they are convinced there’s nothing beyond the grave. Others know they have souls but cash them in for the here and now. They forfeit eternal life for money, power, pleasure, possessions, notoriety, beauty, fitness or whatever takes precedence over God.
The rich young ruler, who we read about in Mark 10, was one such person. He’d kept the letter of the law his whole life. But his heart was where his treasure was, and his treasure was on earth. When Jesus told him to give up his wealth so he could enter God’s kingdom, he went away sad. He couldn’t do it. He loved his money and stuff more than God.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
It’s a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is “nothing.” Money, power, pleasure, possessions, notoriety, beauty, fitness and all the other things of earth are fleeting. No matter how hard we try, we can’t hang onto them. As I once heard Alastair Begg say, “The statistics are in… one out of one dies!” And with death comes the end of all those earthly treasures.
So why are we so prone to run after what we can’t keep? I think it’s pretty simple. We want it! … and the world says, “You need it!”
But God says, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) It’s a great paradox. If we live life on our terms, driven by our own wants, for our own purposes, we lose our souls in the end. But if we lay down our lives, let God have control, live for His glory day to day, in the end we gain eternal life and rewards. Which is the greater?
Jim Elliot lived and died by this principle. Sometime before being killed by the very people he and his fellow missionaries were attempting to reach with the gospel, he made this statement. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
My life is not my own. You gave me life and you will take it from me when you think best. I want to live each day for you and to your glory. Help me cling to what’s eternal and find my life, my contentment, and my all in you alone.