Gaining the World, Losing Your Soul

Camel Through the Eye of a Needle

I recently heard someone say, in relation to the pursuit of wealth, that when you die the one with the most toys wins. This wasn’t the first time I had heard that phrase, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, given the world we live in.

Throughout the ages the accumulation of wealth and power has been the driving force behind the rise of many rulers, leaders, and enterprises. But do those with the most at the end really win? That depends on what they have the most of.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” – Matthew 16:26 NKJV

The Bible presents a very different perspective on wealth and power – those who desire to be rich by accumulating possessions, actually become poor; and those who seek the things of God, putting their focus on spiritual wealth rather than worldly gain, actually become rich.

And so is it wrong to want to have money, or is it wrong to be wealthy? Or should we have no aspirations for a particular standard of living? Let’s be honest, everyone would like to be well off. That’s what drives most of us to work – we’d like to provide a good life for ourselves, our families, and others. And for all that we have, having a little bit more seems better. I have yet to meet someone who wishes they had less.

There are two things that Jesus said that give us an understanding that it’s not as much about what we have, but it’s all about what’s in our hearts. First He said,

“And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:24 NKJV

Wow, that’s a tough one! So everyone who has enough money to be considered rich is going to hell? Even His disciples in that day thought the same: “When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”
In another passage, Jesus said,

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” – 1.Matthew 6:24 NKJV

Jesus’ words are about our hearts, our intentions, our innermost desires. The trapping of material wealth is that one may tend to forget about God, and believe that we are defined by how much we have naturally.

If the heart desires wealth for the sake of self-indulgence and asserting your own will upon others in order to increase your possessions; if you are working to selfishly take whatever you can with little regard for others; if the prize is the size of your wallet and the amount of stuff you can buy; and if the game you are playing is “he who dies with the most toys wins”; then beware because you may gain the world and lose your own soul. Don’t think you can get that camel through the eye of that needle.

However, if you seek prosperity with a heart that is open to providing for and helping others; if you use your wealth for the betterment of others and the furthering of the Kingdom of God; if you can truly say that God comes first, it all comes from Him and all belongs to Him, and your actions follow that; then you are a force for good and a force for God in this world. And the blessing of God to the truly generous person is evident:

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38 NKJV

In the end, those who live according to the love and Spirit of God, it is they who win.


Gaining the World, Losing Your Soul — 2 Comments

  1. Your quote of Lk. 6:38 is best interpreted by its preceding context. In 6:20 Jesus tells his disciples, blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. On the other hand, in 6:24 Jesus says woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. So, poor disciples will receive a part in Jesus’ new kingdom, while the rich will only receive what they already have (their wealth).

    In 6:30 Jesus says to give to everyone who begs from you (even to enemies, like those in 6:27-29), and if someone (an enemy) takes your goods, do not try to get them back. In 6:35 Jesus adds, love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. So, it is more blessed to give than to receive, yet disciples who give generously will receive the great reward of being (kind) children of the (kind) Most High, being part of their Father’s kingdom.

    These are the “measures” disciples who give (to others) will receive that are so great. For if they give by measuring out their generosity even to enemies, they will receive God’s generosity of being their Father. But those who remain rich do so because they are not generous like God. As Jesus says in Mt. 6:21, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also; if one has treasures on earth, their heart is there; if one has treasures in heaven (by selling treasured possessions and giving to the poor, as in Mt. 19:21), their heart is there.

  2. Yes – Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

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