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Profit and Loss

March 24th, 2009

“Bring Mark with you, for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11 KJV

“Don’t miss the treasure when you see the earthen vessel – in yourself or others!”

My thoughts today are about “profit and loss.”

The bottom line for every business, and most endeavors of effort and investment, is calculating the profit and loss. If you only generate a loss, you are not in business you are out. If there is no profit, what you are doing is a hobby not a business. If you only break even, neither making a profit nor sustaining a loss, it is at best a community service or philanthropic endeavor. There would not be any reason to keep doing the same thing, would there?

Determining profit and loss is pretty easy when you are adding or subtracting just numbers in a ledger sheet. But life is so much more than that. What about when you are dealing with people, rather than dollars and cents? How do you figure the profit and loss then? That can be a bit complicated, not so black and white, plain and simple. Numbers are static; people are dynamic.

Some years before, Paul had thought the young John Mark unprofitable. For reasons the Bible does not explain, Mark had decided to return home, leaving the company of Paul and Barnabas in the midst of a missionary journey. Later when Barnabas wanted to again include Mark, Paul took great exception, strong exception. Been there, done that, no need to do that again – seemed to be Paul’s firmly held opinion. Read Acts 15:36-40.

Paul had invested time and effort in the young man and thought it only wasted. When he added up the profit and loss, he could see no profit then, now, or tomorrow. Barnabas was determined, Paul insisted. Their differences over Mark were even described as “contentious . . a sharp disagreement,” enough for them to go their separate ways. When they added things up, they came up with a different total – one saw a profit, the other counted a loss.

Fast-forward some more years. Now Paul is in prison in Rome writing to Timothy, another young protégé, another of his sons in the Gospel. Maybe years and experience broadened the fiery apostle’s perspective. Or maybe those same years, along with Mark’s experiences meanwhile, evidenced changes and a conviction Mark had not previously achieved.

Here’s what Paul wrote to Timothy, “Demas has forsaken me . . only Luke is with me. Take Mark and bring him with you, for he is profitable to me for the ministry. See 2 Timothy 4:6-11 KJV. Paul’s evaluation and regard for John Mark had changed dramatically. He judged Mark to be profitable, a proven investment he had not expected.

Sometimes a person will allow God to change their life to be profitable, from what was a loss, or at least previously appeared to be. From this story you can observe three simple but important things. (1) Sometimes a second chance is all a person needs. I am certainly glad that there were people who offered that to me. See Jeremiah 18:1-4 NIV. (2) Judge others generously, as you wish to be judged. See Romans 14:12-13 NIV. (3) When you look for the best in others; you often find it. “This precious treasure is held in perishable containers . . “ 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT. Don’t forget the treasure even when you are seeing the earthen vessel – in yourself or others! 

My prayer for you today is to be profitable in the economy of the Kingdom of God.

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