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? – Mark 8:36-37
Such a common saying. We hear it all the time. Yet because of it’s commonplace nature, we often skip over it and take it lightly in our conquest of material things and possessions.
When we think of these two verses, two important questions come to mind; the first being– what is that which is my soul; and the second question, how do we know we traded our soul away?
The second question is a lot easier to answer in that we know in hindsight, after we have traded it away, there is an emptiness pervading our being that can’t be subsumed by all that we have in the world. However, the goal is not to trade away our soul, so we have to find answers to the first question to minimize the possibility of finding the realities of the second question.
Unfortunately, the first question is much more complicated, as our souls are the essence of our very being. So what is a “person’s soul?” Is it our relationships? Is it our character? Is it our logic? Is it our vision? Perhaps it is our experiences and memories? More likely, it is probably all of the above?
My take is that all these things are the things held in our soul because they define who we are, what we do and how we do. It is the unique and independently concocted mixture of life experience and God given skills that gives us life and pumps our hearts to do what we do on a daily basis. Jesus says that trading away your soul for everything in this world is a bad trade. The funny thing is that he only says this after he asks the people who are listening to give up everything and follow him.
He implies that anything less than willing submission to follow God for our lives is the equivalent of selling away our very being for temporary and fleeting pleasure. When we lose even one aspect of these areas of our soul to do something in this world out of intrinsic ambition in our lives, we tear apart who we are. Nothing in life comes free and nothing worth having is ever easy. In fact, even when we get nothing, we trade away our souls.
I mean just take a look at our broken past relationships or our failed business endeavors. Those things brought us nothing in return for the blood, sweat and soul we poured into them.
I look back and I have nothing to show but emptiness because I took out that part of my soul that God wanted to place there by His grace. So Jesus asks his followers, how much of your soul will you give up for something that has no long lasting value? He wants to know what price will you pay for a happiness and satisfaction that pales in comparison to what he wants to offer.
He says this knowing that there is no going back once we make our trades. There is no return policy and there are no exchanges. The cost of profits is high and will cost us our lives. Just ask any martyr still alive.
But following Jesus into a vision for our lives, saves our souls from a worthless ROI and gives us new life. I want us to consider our decisions. I want us to consider our ambitions.
I want us to ask ourselves whether we’re willing to part ways with who we are for something that can never complete us.