Mark 8:36 (NIV)
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
We have read and studied this verse before; but in light of our recent series of Scriptures focusing on the spiritual health of men, I believe we should look at it again in that context….
Generally, I think men are more challenged with keeping a balanced perspective on their career and financial goals because we tend to be occupational or vocational centric … meaning we place a high value on what we do and accomplish in our jobs and professions – the money we earn from doing so – and the self-esteem we attach to our careers and bank accounts. It is normal to have an interest or concern about household finances because of our deep-seated desire to be successful and consistent providers for our families. But Jesus asks us a very pointed question: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Another related question for men might be: “What good is it to “prosper” yourself in your work but lose your marriage or your children or your health in the process?” In other words, Jesus calls us to give consideration to the greatest priorities we have in our lives and to not lose sight of what has more eternal impact on ourselves and those we love.
The Apostle Paul shared this perspective with a young man named Timothy – who he mentored and discipled in the faith. Paul said, “For we brought nothing into the word, and we can take nothing out of it.” (Cf. 1 Timothy 6:7) Perhaps that is the sobering reminder we need to form a healthier view of the life God has granted to each of us. Life is a gift. Everything we have is a gift. And while work and the enjoyment it brings to our lives is an important aspect of it … it is really only a context for us to discover, learn, and grow in the knowledge of God’s will for our us. Consider a parable that Jesus shared with His followers:
Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
16 And He (Jesus) told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek His Kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Men … we need to take this lesson and its wisdom to heart. God wants to do so much in our lives and through our lives … not only to conform us to the image of His Son … but to develop us for the good and well-being of others; especially our wives and children. So our spiritual health is critical; and we need to exercise it regularly each day in prayer and study of the Word. Every once and a while, you and I might need to reset our mindsets as my pastor has often encouraged me to do. And as the Apostle Paul admonished, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Cf. Romans 12:2) So when life gets out of balance and when begin to focus more on work and career more than focusing on God, I pray we will set more time aside from our work and personal ambitions to rekindle His Kingdom in our hearts so we can truly flourish in our spirits for the positive influence it will have on our marriages, our children, and our relationships with others. I assure you; it will be time well spent. As the Apostle John wrote, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in good health – just as your soul prospers. (Cf. 3 John 2:2) Amen.