In the business world profit refers to the money that is made by an individual or company after all expenses, salaries, and taxes are paid. It has to do with financial benefit or gain after performing a service or selling an item. This term, in one form or another, is found 40 times in the Old Testament and 30 times in the New Testament. On one occasion Jesus asked, “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)? Solomon was so wealthy that silver was as common as stones in Jerusalem (1 Kg. 10:27), yet he did not have all the wealth of the world. According to Forbes.com in March 2015, Bill Gates was the wealthiest man in the world with a fortune of over $79 billion! However, he does not possess “the whole world.”
Jesus put the value of one eternal soul in direct focus with His question. The eternal soul was given to man by God on day six of creation (Gen. 2:7). Every human has a soul and will one day stand before God in judgment (Ecc. 12:7; Heb. 9:27). When the Lord returns in judgment the temporary things of this life will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10-11). What then? If the soul has not been prepared for eternity there will be no benefit to having wealth, even if one were to have the whole world. Luke 12:13-21 teaches us that it is foolish to place the emphasis in life on hoarding wealth for oneself. Solomon attempted to find happiness in wisdom (Ecc. 1:12-18) and possessions (Ecc. 2:1-11). His conclusion was, “…all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecc. 2:11).
Jesus’ question as recorded by Matthew is in the immediate context of following Him (Matt. 16:24-26). Luke’s account is as follows: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me…For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away” (Lk. 9:23, 25)? There is no profit or advantage for a person who does not prepare his soul for eternity! The goal of one’s life should not be the pursuit of temporal things to the neglect of the soul (Lk. 12:15, 20). Jesus came to provide man with the abundant life (Jn. 10:10), and God wants man to, “love life and see good days” (1 Pet. 3:10-12). How does one prepare for eternity? How can we access the abundant life offered by Christ? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27). The voice of Jesus is found only in the pages of the New Testament. The word of God reveals how to follow Christ and stand prepared for eternity. Paul wrote that salvation is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:10) and, that baptism puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). God’s plan for saving man from sin is clearly revealed throughout the book of Acts and in several other passages in the New Testament (Acts 2:37-42; 8:5-13; 10:44-48; Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21). What could possibly be gained by ignoring or changing God’s plan of salvation? Hebrews 11:24-27 reveals that Moses understood the “gain” of forsaking the pleasures of sin in order to follow God out of Egypt. Paul wrote of himself, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul” (Mk. 8:36)? Our time on earth is a vapor when compared to eternity (Jas. 4:14). We must understand that there is nothing in the world that is more valuable than our own soul. With that understanding, we must then obey God’s word in order to spend an eternity with Him (Mat. 7:21-23).
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