Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Gain The World, Forfeit Your Soul

 Tuesday, April 27, 2021

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

Gain The World, Forfeit Your Soul

As a crowd and the disciples gather around, Jesus asks a question that is so profound. He asked For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? I feel like we spend a great deal of time and energy trying to profit from this world. We spend our lives searching for something to fill the void when Jesus is the only thing that fills that space. Not only is Jesus the only thing that fills the void, but we can lose our soul in the process. Satan lures us with the world. We imagine the lies he tells to be true, but we quickly find out they are empty, and you cannot fill emptiness with emptiness. There are some who would rather have all the world offers than to deny themselves at all and have all Jesus offers. Sadly, one day they will find out that it was not worth it to gain the whole world and forfeit their soul.

Before Jesus asks this question, He says three things that one must do if they want to be a true Christ follower.

Deny Yourself
One of the first things we have to learn as new Christians is how to deny ourselves. To some this may sound like a life of denial and going without but in reality, denying oneself and following Christ will be the most fulfilling life. We have to learn to say no to our carnal human nature and focus on what glorifies God. Only one of us will get the glory and it has to be Him. It is easy to get lost in our desires – even good desires like church work or volunteer work. Although those are great and help us grow, they can become an idol and take the place of God in our hearts. We must remember that a relationship with Him is the most important thing and if we need to stop doing other things – even good things – to work on that relationship then its ok. Christians have to die to self every day. Our sinful nature doesn’t leave when we become Christians. It is a battle we will fight for the rest of our lives.

Take Up Your Cross
So many people think this means some sort of burden. By saying this, Jesus meant that it was going to be work and sacrifice to be His follower. I can't help but think of the symbolism. Jesus had to carry His cross - the place of sacrifice and death. We have to carry our cross - maybe so we can remember that we are to deny ourselves and die to ourselves daily. It is a continuous commitment, not because we have to, but because we desire to follow Him

Some of the followers of Jesus during Bible times died because they were followers of Christ. They denied themselves and chose to follow Christ no matter the cost. By taking up our cross daily we are allowing Christ to take the lead and committing to follow Him. We are committing to be His disciples. Whatever we have to leave behind, wherever He leads us to go, or whatever uncomfortable situation He leads us through.

Follow Me 
When we truly let go and let God have control, we can surrender to whatever He leads us to. Some of us will be leaders too, but we will all be followers of Christ. He knows this will not always be easy. We will face opposition and even persecution. 

Another part of what Jesus is saying here is "Obey Me." Being a follower of Jesus, following Him, means obeying His word and turning to Him for all things. Jesus knows we will not be perfect, but it is about making the choice to do or say what Jesus commands us to do and say. Following Him means being led by Him. Following His example. Following His guidance in our lives, and doing our best to be like Him. 

Along the way, at some point we have to decide whether it will be Jesus or the world - and it may happen more than once. As a Christian we are not automatically exempt from the things of the world that try to lure us away, such as false doctrines like the Pharisees, along with the worldly desires and enticements. All the things we could ever own - houses, cars, boats, properties, etc. mean absolutely nothing in an eternal perspective. They might give momentary happiness, but they do nothing for our souls. The only place for our souls is carrying our cross, following Jesus. 


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