In these words, “What does it Profit a Man to Gain the Whole World and Lose His Life,” Jesus makes a number of highly valuable and important points. He goes on to say that if any man saves his life he will lose it and if any man loses his life for the Lord’s sake he will gain it. What is Jesus talking about?
Saving Your Life to Lose it
When Jesus talks about saving your life to lose it, he is not talking about death or dying, although that is always a possibility. What he is talking about is forsaking the things of this life, the pride of life, the lusts and passions of the flesh and all of the things of this world that are held up by the world as being desirable or valuable. If you “save your life” in this world by seeking the things of this world, you will lose your eternal life.
We should note that what is considered valuable by man or the people of this world are of little or no value in God’s point of view. Think for a moment about what all men want; money, wealth, riches, gold, property, power and so on. But all of these things are either transitory and fading or can be destroyed in the blink of an eye.
Think about the value of money today. In the past few years the money markets have fallen in a heap with the global financial crisis and the value of money has become very shaky. The same can be said of shares, property and other investments. And this is nothing new for the economic cycle goes through boom and bust every seven to ten years making fortunes at one time and destroying them in other times.
So why do men chase after money and wealth when it is so easily taken away? It is because of the lust for power to overcome the difficulties and strife in this life that men seek money. Men believe that wealth gives you power to be able to rise above the problems and issues of the world.
And yet from God’s perspective money and wealth are a problem. Jesus said, “”Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23) So if money and wealth make it so difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven, why chase after it?
That is why Jesus says that by losing your life, that is the life offered by this world, you will gain your life, that is your eternal salvation and life with Jesus in the kingdom of heaven.
Losing your Life to Save it
So the converse holds also that if we do forsake the things of this world and instead focus on seeking the ways of God, we will gain our life into eternity. This is certainly a much greater reward than the fleeting pleasures of this life.
The challenge man faces is that they think only of the here and now. Man does not think in terms of eternity but because of the passions and desires of the flesh he thinks only of what’s in it for him right now.
Many businesses today are aware of this failing in mankind and play to it to great effect. There are whole industries, such as the fast food businesses, that are built on the premise of instant gratification. The same is the case in many of the seedier sides of this life too; gambling, pornography and prostitution to name just a few. Each of these are designed to provide instant gratification to the passions and lusts of mankind, but are of no value in the long term, either for the person’s life here and definitely not for their eternal life.
What does it Profit
Profit is generally seen as being something good. When we receive profit it is general seen as something good. When we receive a profit it is a good thing. But the things of this world do not offer any profit, only death. They lead to destruction not to life.
But when we seek what is good we do receive profit, both in terms of our life in this world and for the future with Jesus into eternity. Even in this life when we follow the paths of righteousness and do good and give we get good in return as Jesus said, “…give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38)
The profit we receive from a life with Jesus is to live in the knowledge of the truth and to learn how to live a life free from guilt and fear, especially the fear of death. All of mankind fear death, but knowledge about death and what it truly means takes away that fear. In Jesus we learn that death is not the end and that this life is really just a place of preparation to see who will be worthy to gain the profit of the real life into eternity with Jesus Christ.
Do you want this profit? Then shun the things of this world and put no value or faith in what this world has to offer. Don’t chase after the things of this world or ascribe any value to them, but instead seek the things of God. This is your first priority, to find the path to righteousness. Anything this world has to offer just fades into insignificance by comparison to what Jesus has to offer if we are prepared to forsake this life for the better one to come.