For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
Our Lord has taught us as no other teacher ever has -
I. THE TRANSCENDENT WORTH OF OUR HUMAN NATURE. When he came that was held in very small esteem. Men showed what they thought of human nature by the use they made of it, and of human life by the readiness with which they threw it away. There was no thought of the inviolable sacredness of a human spirit. Jesus Christ has taught us to think of it as precious beyond all price. Man's body is only the vesture of his mind; man, like God, is spirit, but he is spirit clothed in flesh. He is a spirit
(1) accountable to God for all he thinks and feels, as well as for all he says and does;
(2) capable of forming a beautiful and noble character resembling that of the Divine Father himself;
(3) capable of living a life which, in its sphere, is a reproduction of the life God is living in heaven;
(4) coming into close contact and fellowship with God;
(5) intended to share God's own immortality.
II. THE TEMPTATION TO LOSE SIGHT OF THIS GREAT TRUTH. There are two things that often have such a deteriorating effect upon us that it is practically erased from the tablet of our soul.
1. The love of pleasure; whether this be indulgence in unholy pleasure, or the practical surrender of ourselves to mere enjoyment, to the neglect of all that is best and highest.
2. The eager pursuit of gain. Not that there is any radical inconsistency between profitable trading and holy living; not that a Christian man may not exemplify his piety by the way in which he conducts his business; but that there are often found to be terribly strong temptations to untruthfulness, or dishonesty, or hardness, or unjust withholdment, or a culpable and injurious absorption in business. And under the destructive influence of one of these two forces the soul withers or dies.
III. THE CALAMITOUS MISTAKE THAT IS SOMETIMES MADE. It is not only a grievous sin, but a disastrous error to gain worldly wealth, and, in the act of gaining it, to lose the soul. That is the worst of all possible bargains. The man who makes many thousands of pounds, and who loses conscientiousness, truthfulness, spirituality, all care for what God thinks of him and feels about him, sensitiveness of spirit - in fact, himself, is a man over whom Heaven weeps; he has made a supreme mistake. Gold, silver, precious stones, are of limited worth. There are many of the most important services we want which they have no power to render; and the hour is daily drawing near when they will have no value to us whatever. But the soul is of immeasurable worth; no sum of money that can be expressed in figures will indicate its value; that is something which absolutely transcends expression; and time, instead of diminishing, enhances its importance - it becomes of more and more account "as our days go by," as our life draws toward its close. Jesus Christ not only put this thought into words, - the words of the text - he put it into action. He let us see that, in his estimation, the human soul was worth suffering and dying for - worth suffering for as he suffered in Gethsemane, worth dying for as he died at Calvary. Then do we wisely enter into his thought concerning it when we seek salvation at his cross, when, by knowing him as our Divine Redeemer, we enter into eternal life. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?