Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sacrifice for Reward

Sacrifice for Reward
November 28, 2016
Matthew 16:26  "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?"

In the typical rules of business, you only earn your money after all expenses are paid.  Everything that is left over is your profit.  You don't get a reward in business; you get  what you've earned and you don't get what you haven't earned.  You can work your heart out in business yet come home empty handed.  A few poor business calculations or bad decisions and your efforts can be wiped out completely.  Jesus, though not typically considered an economist, taught a good deal about money and surprisingly offered some business advice we seldom take.  He offered a solution so you could guarantee a  return on your efforts.  He said you could toil your whole life, end up having gained the world, and yet still be a loser if you lost your soul.  In this lies the advice we seldom take

You and I have heard this Scripture over and over again.  Not to worry, we both think, none of us are in jeopardy of gaining the entire world.  Jesus was giving the worst case scenario, suggesting the epitome of worldly richness wouldn't be worth the loss of your soul.  He was also saying all the money in the world could not purchase back your soul from Hell, given the opportunity.  Any amount wouldn't be enough.  While you may not be trying to gain the whole world, you are probably, like me, trying to gain YOUR whole world.  The Lord said this effort is more risky than not; saying it is a poor business decision that would end up with the antithesis of what you'd like to happen, akin to working yourself to the bone and yet having no profit to speak of at the end of the business deal after all the expenses were paid.  It isn't enough, though, to not seek the gain of the entire world or the gain of your whole world, Jesus gives the secret in the verse right before it and right after it.

The preceding verse says, "whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  This could not be more opposite of gaining the whole world.  Jesus said, not only do you have to forsake gaining and winning over your whole personal world, but that you should be willing to give it all up completely.  You and I might not be winning over our entire personal world, but are we willing to give every ounce, every last bit away for the sake of Jesus.  We read the Bible and says yes, but our actions, our check book of expenditures, say otherwise.  We don't really want to sacrifice anything for the Lord; few of us have ever done that.  This is extremism and surely the Lord isn't asking us to give it all up for Him.  Yes, it is and Yes, He is asking.  Do you deny your flesh every single day?  This isn't akin to going to work when you don't want to, just to pay the bills.  That doesn't count.  Jesus is asking if you have denied yourself today.

After Jesus said He is requiring you to deny yourself today, not working for control and gain over your entire personal world, He said one last thing (and this is what makes Him the greatest economist).  He said He will keep score and reward you for your sacrifice, for your loss.  Remember in business you don't profit unless you win.  Jesus said you can only win if you lose.  He said you will be rewarded exactly in direct correlation to what you have sacrificed on His behalf.  Whatever your lose intentionally, you will be rewarded for in direct or greater proportion.  It can't be an accidental loss, it must be an act of self denial.  This gives you an option.  You can work hard in this world, and maybe, just maybe, you might gain something temporal.  OR you can intentionally give up many things in order to work for Him and gain all, if not more than, whatever it is you've sacrificed.  It does not make sense to the natural world, but it is some interesting truths very few of us employ.  What to get rich?  Then give it all up, because in your great sacrifice there is great reward.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 16, Mark 10:29, Lk 9:24, John 12:29

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