S113P2 – Navigating prosperity: the seemingly obvious trade-off

Mk. 8:34-38

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

The debate concerned this very passage.  Both men had come from substantial means, and both had experienced a change of heart when they met the Savior.  One man took his wealth and spread it as far as he could in what seemed like an instant.  He vowed to live a much leaner life as a result of these words.  The other man became more generous with his wealth, but he also held on to much of it and continued to build it.  Each man heard the warning regarding trading one’s soul for the world.  Both men were vigilant, but they differed on a great point of substance.  The question was whether gaining the world necessarily would result in a soul being lost.

The words of Christ here are not specifically referring to wealth.  He is speaking about those who will deny him before his Father and ultimately lose their souls.  What these people do, in essence, is hold on to those things that will not save them and eschew the one thing that will.  Christ is asking us to consider the value of gaining everything that can be gained outside of him if it results in losing him.  For some, what they will chase is money.  The concern is not that we will gain riches but that what we gain will replace Christ.  This means that one can gain all there is to gain in this world, and that is just fine, as long as it does not result in a soul being lost.  Abundance does not necessarily bring corruption, pride, and unholy independence. 

We must understand that material goods are simply tools.  We can use those tools for good or for evil.  It is the same with fame, power, and position.  If a child of God can be faithful and responsible with much, then we should not be surprised when God gives that child much.  The issue is when we allow the abundant blessing of God to corrupt us.  Souls are not lost because people are prosperous.  That happens when people place their trust and allegiance in their prosperity instead of the One who bestows it.  Father, make us faithful and trustworthy to be proper stewards of the worldly gain You allow us to have in our time here.