When Gains Become Losses and Losses Become Gains

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I bet I can tell you what you love the most.  Just tell me what you are willing to sacrifice for.

The Bible tells us Solomon was a great man of wisdom (1Kings 3:1-15).  Almost as if someone said, “Prove it”, the Bible follows the story of Solomon’s wisdom with a story NIV subtitles A Wise Ruling.

In the story, two women claimed to be the mother of a child.  Solomon suggested his guards should cut the child in two.  However, the true mother said, “No, give the child to the other mother.”

Why is Solomon so wise?  He knows the true mother would sacrifice her joy, her love, and her presence with that child to give that child life. 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46 NIV)

In this story, something is sold and something is gained.  We always sacrifice one thing for another.

As Christians, we want to be sure that everything we sell (sacrifice) brings a greater eternal return (gain). 

Jim Elliot said (thanks for Paul at Provident Planning for reminding me of the source of this quote) Someone once said (help me out – who was it?), “He is no fool who sacrifices what he cannot keep to get what he cannot lose.”

Unfortunately, many people sacrifice the wrong things because they want or love the wrong things.

Some love pleasure.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17 NIV)

Some love money.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)

Some love acceptance.  Some love family.  Whatever it is, if you love something more than God you will sacrifice for that item instead of for God. 

Sometimes, we have not asked what is worth sacrificing for?  What is the most important thing in my life?  We work and work and go through life, not knowing what really matters.  So today, I want you to take a break from all your meaningless productivity and ask yourself what really matters?

Do you want to be known for your work?  Known for your role in the community?  Known for your money?  Known as a person who honors God? 

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11 NIV)

How do I know if I’m sacrificing for the right things?
1.    Is it something that fulfills God’s kingdom and will on this earth?
2.    Is it something that has a lasting impact?
3.    Is it something that I’ll look back in heaven and say – right choice?

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 NIV)

Editor’s Note: I had a more controversial post scheduled for today (Should Christians Settle Credit Card Debt?), but I just didn’t have the energy to put up a fight today :).  Don’t worry. I’ll be back in high spirits soon enough. Ha!

Today’s post is a summary of a sermon that I preached several weeks ago.  I thought I would share it because when I preach, I only share words that convict me.  I’m still trying to apply these words to my life.  I’m trying to prioritize things so I’m giving my time, effort, and energy to the things that really matter.  Pray for me as I get my priorities right and I’ll pray for you.

Comments

  1. Donna says

    Great article today Craig. Very thought provoking. It gave me pause to stop and think, especially given I have been up since 5am with a painful shoulder and spasms. Thank you for telling it like it is and I cannot wait for tomorrow’s post. :o)

    • says

      @Paul – yes you are right. It was Jim Elliot. Thanks for making that clear.
      The thing I love about him is that his life certainly matched that quote.

  2. Donna says

    I just reread your post. I asked myself the three questions. I asked my husband. We have decided to increase our giving to overseas missionaries that truly sacrifice and work tirelessly to further the kingdom of God. Your questions cut me to the quick and will now be printed on the top of our budget sheet. There is nothing greater than to sacrifice to give to the kingdom of God, to further his word, to save souls for eternity. Thanks again Craig.

    • says

      @Donna
      Thanks so much for passing along that great news. I pray that God will bless you in this effort.
      I’ve been reflecting on those questions myself wondering what God is calling me to do. Thanks for being a great example.

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