What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Matthew 16:26 | NIV | Other Versions | Context
Do you have ambitions? Do you have dreams? Do you have a future that you aspire towards? Do you want to earn money? Do you want a bright future? Do you want the CEO title? Do you want to be at the top of the world? If you do, how far are you willing to go in order to make your dreams come true? Are you willing to go the extra mile in order to realise your ambitions? What measures will you take? What means? What sacrifices will you make? Are you willing to work hard, slog hard, and put aside your travelling plans or your movie dates for the sake of that golden future? Are you willing to work on Sundays? Are you willing to put family and ministry aside and prioritise your work, your clients, your employers? Do you want it badly enough? Will you bend your morals for the sake of success? Would you resort to trickery and deception? Will you break the law, or make use of loopholes in the law? Will you steal a colleague’s idea? Will you sabotage your competition? Will you spread rumours about your boss? Will you sell your body? Will you embezzle?
Will you sacrifice your soul for the sake of success? Will you sacrifice your relationship with God for the sake of success?
In this study, we will examine these questions in relation to our personal ambitions and career paths.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul – living in the world as it is today, there are plenty of temptations. Sometimes it’s scary to hear of the temptations in people’s heads – sometimes it is even scary to hear of the temptations in my own head. Sometimes we are forced into a situation in which our job is at stake – our job that ensures that we have a good salary to bring home every month. Or perhaps the honour of our family is at stake. Or perhaps money is at stake – too much money, worth as much as your entire house altogether. You’re made to choose whether or not to do a wrong thing in order to keep your job. In order to protect the honour of your family. In order to tide through a financial crisis. Maybe you will do something that goes against your conscience. Maybe you will do something that makes you guilty. Maybe you will do something that you know you shouldn’t, especially when you are a Christian. Yet you do it. In doing it, you forfeit your soul.
What does our ‘soul’ refer to? I don’t know if you’re in touch with mainstream fiction or movies, but a soulless person would perhaps be synonymous to a zombie. I’m sure there are a lot of people who fits the description of having sold their soul, but don’t physically look like a zombie. In general human understanding, or at least in my humble opinion, having a soul refers to having emotions, having a conscience, having a will, having thoughts and desires and feelings. By that definition, are there people who lose their souls in their pursuit of success? Yes, I’m sure there are plenty. There have been many horror stories of the lengths that people go to for the sake of success. For the sake of being on top of the world. For the sake of gaining the whole world.
In Christianity however our souls have a deeper meaning than all that. There’s the element of the spiritual connection between us and God. Without a soul, it is impossible for us to have a relationship with God. Perhaps losing our souls can be interpreted as one being subjected to everlasting torment and misery. Imagine having been banished from the divine presence, and continually feel God’s unquenchable wrath on you? I have been a Christian all my life, so I cannot truly or fully imagine a life without God in it – it does seem quite horrible, indeed.
Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? – It would be fair to say that our soul does not technically belong to ourselves, but to God, who bought it over from us when the Lord was crucified and he died to wash away our sins. It was at that price that we were cleansed. It was at that price that salvation was made available to all of us. In our desire to fulfill our ambitions, we are often tempted to – pardon the idiom – sell our souls to the devil. Indeed, everytime we make the decision to sacrifice a bit of our morals to achieve some success, we sell a little part of our souls to the devil. The world tells us its worth it – it’s worth it bending a little of your foolish morals so that you achieve that huge success or windfall. It’s okay, really, because everybody does it. Nobody will catch you, it’s not even really a crime. The world in exchange for your soul. Sounds fair? Sounds like a good deal? The Bible tells us the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough [Psa 49:8].
But without our soul, why would we need or want the whole world? Without God, why would we need or want the whole world? The world is but just temporal. The redemption of a soul takes far greater a price than gold or silver. Yet the price isn’t ours to pay. The price has already been paid by something far greater than gold or silver – it has been paid by the blood of Christ Jesus, the son of God. We didn’t need to pay the price to redeem our soul. It was paid by something greater than the world. So why are we so willing to lose our soul in exchange for the world, or for even lesser things than the world?
Don’t lose your soul. Don’t lose your heart. Don’t lose sight of God. It’s not worth exchanging anything else in the world for it.