Essential or Expendable?

“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his own soul?”  Mark 6:36 NIV.

Everything ever needing to be done for your salvation was done on a cross by a Savior.

My thoughts and comments today ask a question, “essential or expendable?”

Life is filled with questions. Some arise from mere curiosity; some, however, are of eternal importance. There are many things you might like to know, but there are a few things about which you absolutely must be clear. Distinguishing between “want to know” and “need to know” is basic. Reading the Gospels, you notice that Jesus asked, and was asked, quite a lot of questions. Since my youth, I have pondered Jesus’ probing question, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his own soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37 NIV.

In Jesus’ estimation, the vastly disproportionate value between the “whole world” and one’s “own soul” is no exaggeration at all; your soul is of eternal significance. And yet every day, people sell their soul for things of marginal value temporally and no value eternally. Linger over the word, “forfeit,” in Jesus’ question. I suggest such a forfeiture describes, “The voluntary surrender of something invaluable by deliberate choice or benign neglect.” Who would be so foolish as to regard the eternal so casually?

I think benign neglect is the more common and the least understandable. Little wonder that the Bible warns, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away . . how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation . .” Hebrews 2:1-4 NKJV. Drifting, like neglect, is usually incremental, unnoticeable until time is past and opportunity lost.

In the matter of your soul, it is wise to distinguish what is essential from what is expendable. The account of Esau and Jacob, Abraham’s grandsons, is among the tragic stories of the Old Testament. Weary and driven by his appetite, Esau traded his birthright to Jacob, his brother, for an immediate and enticing bowl of stew. How impetuous; how shortsighted; how tragic; how irreversible. Read Genesis 25:27-34/27:1-38 NKJV.

Jim Elliott (1926-1957), a young missionary martyred by a savage Ecuadorian tribe, had written in his journal years earlier, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Your brief life and all you have, however valuable, pales in comparison to the immeasurable worth of your eternal soul and destiny of living forever with God. See 1 Tim 2:3-5 NIV.

The eternal question which must be asked and answered by each individual is, “What must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30 NIV. There seem to be as many answers to that as there are religions. This is an area where opinion, however sincere, is just not enough. You need to know God’s Word. The Bible’s answer is, “’Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.’ Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house . . he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God – he and his whole family.” Acts 16:31-34 NIV.

Your own efforts only make salvation elusive – more about what you don’t do, or earned by your best, but futile, efforts such as: religion, good works, charitable deeds, and such like. God makes it this simple: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Read Romans 10:9-13 NIV. Everything ever needing to be done for your salvation was done on a cross by a Savior. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us . .” Titus 3:4-5 NIV. See also Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation.