“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:36-37 NLT)
In Mark chapter 8 Jesus is telling His disciples about His impending suffering, death and resurrection. Peter, unable to even begin to comprehend something so terrible, takes Jesus aside, seeking to correct His “misunderstanding” of future events. But to Peter’s surprise, Jesus tells Peter he’s taking his cues from Satan and “seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (NLT)
At that point Jesus calls the crowd to join Him and His disciples and begins to explain to them what following Him should look like. It was in this context Jesus asked a couple very pointed and penetrating questions in verses 36-37: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (NLT)
This may seem an odd way to open a blog on understanding our longings, but the reality is, the greatest enemy of longing for the things of God, is our incessant longing for the things of this world – “seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” And the irony is, generosity, which grows out of our longing for God, at its core isn’t even a matter of finances or possessions, it’s a matter of the heart. Generosity doesn’t originate in what we do, (i.e. how much of ourselves/our “stuff” we give away) but from who we are (i.e. our character, illustrated by how much of ourselves/”what’s ours” we seek to keep).
As always, Jesus is painting a picture that burns an indelible image on our heart and mind. When He speaks of gaining “the whole world,” He’s essentially saying, “and all that entails – every advantage socially, politically, economically, educationally, relationally – EVERY conceivable advantage this world could possibly offer – WITHOUT RESERVATION!” But the nagging question still remains: “Is all the world has to offer worth as much as my soul?” with the clear implication – NO WAY! But why not?
Most human beings, including many believers, because of their longings for the temporal things of this world, are choosing every day to trade their soul for the trinkets of this world, resulting in a stingy heart and a troubled, empty soul. We’re always looking for more. But more of what? Of what this world offers or more of Jesus? And to what end?
In Matthew 13 Jesus tells a story about a man who finds a treasure in a field, and in his excitement, he sells everything he owned to get enough to buy that field. What was the treasure? Jesus! What’s the implication? Nothing, no amount of this world’s goods and services, can compare with the joy of knowing, loving, serving, sacrificing everything we own and everything we are for His honor and fame.
We’ll look at this more closely tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊
*In yesterday’s article I mentioned that if you wanted to send me a message you could do so by going to the “Contact” page. That’s true if you’re on my Blog website; however, if you’re receiving my Blog via your email, the best way to contact me is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org I’m sorry for the mixup. 😦