What does the Bible have to say about wealth, budgeting, business, saving and investing? A lot. At the end of each week, I’d like to look at a verse concerning our heart posture towards God and money. We’ll examine how the verse addresses the practical issues of life, as well as our mindset on the gift of money God has given us. Ultimately, we should see Jesus.
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?
The red letters of Jesus. This week we'll hear from the Master himself. We'll also be looking at one of the most quoted scriptures on money. Let's dive in.
To put this quote in context, Jesus was explaining to the disciples that he would have to suffer, die and resurrect. He explained these things plainly to them. After Jesus rebukes Peter for trying to rebuke him, Jesus begins to teach them about the cost of discipleship. Jesus says "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." The statement seems contradictory. How do we deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and lose our life in order to save it? Jesus is teaching us to desire the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdom of Self. We can try and create our own little kingdoms, where we our on our little thrones; or we can sacrifice our selfish desires in order to gain access into God's glorious kingdom, where Jesus is on the throne. Jesus says that it would cost us our pride, possessions and everything we value, including our lives. However, what we have (and if we try to save it) will be lost, and is ultimately rubbish compared to His kingdom. This sets up Mark 8:36-37.
In the ancient world, although everyone wasn't a merchant, but everyone did have some type of small business and experience with buying and selling in the market. Farmers farmed their land in order to provide food for themselves and others. Same with fisherman, carpenters crafted objects to be sold for profit in order to make a living. Profit is a financial term many people were familiar with. When a fisherman sold a fish at $5 that cost him $2 to make, that $3 excess or profit could be used to catch more fish, feed his family, or pay an employee. The purpose of obtaining profit was to have excess money that could be exchanged for other items. Fisherman couldn't always exchange a fish for a $3 table, but with the money they obtained by working hard, they could exchange their $3 profit for a table. Here, Jesus shows us he is the greatest economist to ever walk the earth.
Money is a medium of exchange. We work hard to make a profit, in order to exchange the money we receive for the things we value most. When we buy the iPhone, or anything really, we are saying that we value that item more than the money we have. We are also saying that out of all the things we could have exchanged our money for, the iPhone was a better exchange. We have a "gain" or profit when we bought the iPhone, which could be attributed to the satisfaction we have in finally having the iPhone. What we find satisfaction in, is what we value most. Otherwise we wouldn't exchange our resources (time, money, and effort) for them. We invest our lives for the profit of satisfaction in the things we value most.
Jesus is telling us that our priorities are disordered. What we should be valuing most is our soul, rather than the things of this world. In the context of what he is instructing his disciples, we need to stop finding satisfaction in building our own little kingdoms. Our satisfaction should be found in building God's kingdom and valuing what he has guaranteed for us in eternity rather than the temporal things we have in this world. iPhone screens crack, houses deteriorates, and money loses is value over time, and none of these things are more valuable than our soul. Jesus didn't die so we can have the iPhone 6, a big house, or a huge bank balance. He died so we can have relationship with him and our Father. What profit do we have in exchanging relationship with God for earthly treasures? Nothing.
In the context of biblical stewardship, what we are doing is exchanging what God owns and has given us to manage for our own little kingdoms where we are god and everything else serves our purposes. Jesus gives us the best advice he can give on money, discipleship, and obedience to God in this passage. He tells us to die (killing our Self, our Pride, and the Sin in our hearts) in order to be resurrected to a life hidden in Him and in relationship with God. There is no greater profit than dying to Self and gaining everything we should want and need in Jesus.