Posted by: gbake783 | November 11, 2011

Luke 9:23-27

In preparation for this week’s study, I read a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon. The text was not Luke 9:23-27, but the parallel passage of Mark 8:36 (click here for the whole sermon). Spurgeon explores the value of a soul – Jesus didn’t come for gold or fame, but for souls. Our Adversary couldn’t care less about our possessions; he prizes the soul. God gave His only Son to redeem our souls. Angels rejoice when one soul comes to Christ. Is there anything more valuable than a soul?

Jesus tells us what it takes to be a disciple: disciples deny themselves, take up their crosses daily, and follow constantly (present imperative). And if we’re wondering what those commands look like in real life, Jesus provides three applications marked by three “for” statements in verses 24-26. True disciples set aside hopes for personal security, eschew wealth, and abandon hopes of respectability.

For the sake of this post, I’d like to focus on verse 26, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself.” I haven’t met any Christians who want the whole world. I’ve never talked with a Christian who demands vast wealth and dominion. No, we typically trade our souls for far, far less.

Many crave simple security – the safety net. Yes, Scripture encourages us toward frugality and saving for those rainy days. In fact, I encourage newlyweds to follow Dave Ramsey’s Baby-Step financial system. That said, we too often remove faith from our lives. I want to be careful – presumption is just as sinful as faithless living. Perhaps an example will walk the tightrope.

What if your church leadership asked you to pray about moving your family to a neighboring town for the purpose of planting a church? You’d lose the memories of your current  home. The close friendships you’ve cultivated in your local church would be harder to maintain. You’d risk a new neighborhood, a new school, a new shopping routine – the list goes on and on. But what would it profit you to gain all that anticipated security – I say anticipated because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring – and hurt your soul? Or what about another’s soul? What good does it accomplish for us to feel comfortable while another goes without hearing the message of God’s grace? All that uncertainty requires faith. Are we willing to put ourselves in a position where faith enters the equation?

I remember as a Senior in High School reading the short story, The Devil and Tom Walker. In a dramatic scene Tom sells his soul for material riches. But I don’t think modern Americans, or at least modern American Christians, deal so dramatically with their souls. No, we don’t trade them for one big sell; we choose, rather, to bleed them one decision at a time. We make short-term choices in favor of fun, security, or career advancement. We think the decisions are temporary. We convince ourselves that we’ll make it up later – we’ll buckle down and serve Christ . . . next weekend. Before long we’ve made a string of decisions not in the best interest of our souls. We drift so far off the trail that we can’t even recall where it started to go wrong. And sometimes we even forget just how to follow Christ again. And here’s how we get our feet back on the right path – deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

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