The Question

09/13/2005

“Is anything worth more than your soul?”
Mark 8:37 (NLT)

Can you feel that place deep inside of you that no one knows about but you…well, you and your Creator that is? That’s your soul, and although we may not like to think about it, God knows us that deeply. Yes, He knows all of our deepest thoughts. All our deepest needs. Some may not even know their Creator, but He knows them, intimately.

Then how, you might ask, can the day actually come when Jesus will profess, “I never knew you!” as in Matthew 7:23? When he turns those that call out “Lord, Lord,” away? It’s not that Jesus won’t know everyone; He will know everyone so well that He will know those who knew Him and also those who never knew Him. In return, some will and some will not be entering the Kingdom of Heaven on Judgment day. (Matthew 7:21-22) The reason being is found in the Bible, right after our original question, “Is anything worth more than your soul?” Right after that, Jesus goes on to say in Mark 8:38, “If a person is ashamed of me, and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in the glory of my Father with the holy angels.”

On that day, some may have gained the whole world, but lost their very soul.
Mark 8:36 (NLT)

As I was reading Mark 8:37 tonight and came upon the question, “Is anything worth more than your soul?” it made me stop and think…Just how precious is a soul? What is its worth? What are we giving up for an eternity when we choose to be ashamed of the Good News of Jesus Christ today? Or even, what pieces of our soul do we give up daily when we are not focused on what’s most important in the Kingdom of God?

I have heard the soul described as our mind, our will and our emotions. I guess that pretty much sums it up. The soul is how we think about things, what we choose to do with those thoughts, and how we feel about the results of those choices. It’s who we are deep inside…under all the sin, under all the play-acting, under all the anger that has built up over the years…it is the part of us that longs for love, and freedom and joy. It’s the part of us that knows God even when we try to keep Him buried under all the misconceptions we have of Him and all the reasons we have used in our life to deny His existence. The soul is the core of our being…it is priceless, it is one-of-a kind...and yet we are so quick to dismiss it, to sell it for things that will perish.

Why do we cheapen what we should hold most dear?
Why do “shiny objects” and worldly temptations so easily distract us?
Are they worth more than our very soul?

We can be a pretty selfish breed. In many things, we think of ourselves first. If there’s one cookie left, why shouldn’t it be ours? If there’s a parking spot available on a busy Friday night, we’ll want to rush to get it ahead of the next guy. If we’re shopping for a new house and find the perfect one to meet our needs, we’ll probably do whatever it takes to make it happen. We fight for our own rights, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and we’re not about to get left out of the good things we think we deserve. And yet…when it comes to what’s most important, sometimes we will sell out so quickly. We won’t fight and claw and scramble our way to the best God has for us! We’ll let it slip right through our fingers, barely giving it a glance as we fight and claw and scramble our way through the “stuff” of this world that we think we deserve.

It’s sad to say, but in too many battles in life the enemy is winning. He’s got us right where he wants us, and what’s really crazy is that most times we don’t even realize what’s happening. We’ll accept what the enemy dishes out as “good enough,” and miss the very best that God has waiting.

Jesus says, “…you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34 NLT) To many, this sounds like we are giving up “the whole world,” but in truth, this is exactly how we gain it! Jesus says this is how we will find “true life.”

So, what are we living if it isn’t true? Is it the truth camouflaged by the enemy, appearing to be what we want when what Jesus has waiting for us is so much better? Why are we selling out so quickly when in most every other area of life we will fight till the finish to get exactly what we want? Why do we give up the things of God so quickly…are we too busy, or are we too tired, or maybe godly things just seem boring right now?

What we really need in life can be found in the Bible, but maybe to a lot of us it sounds like a fairytale. Maybe when we read God’s word it seems all well and good, but it can’t be true in our own lives…these are old stories and these people are long gone and they didn’t live in the world we live in today…that’s just not how it works anymore. Or is it?

The disciples struggled with all that was happening then too, we can read about it. Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe?” (Mark 9:19 NLT) They were living when Jesus lived, they saw Him heal people, raise people from the dead, turn water into wine…and they still struggled. It wasn’t because these words were written in a different day and age than they lived in; it was because the enemy was alive and active then too. The disciples battled with their own minds, their own wills, their own emotions, just as we do today. We don’t struggle because the Bible is “outdated.” We struggle because we live in a fallen world and the enemy is trying to blind us to all that Jesus can do in our lives. The enemy wants our whole soul or any piece of it he can get, and he will fight until the bitter end to get it…will we fight that hard to save it? Perhaps the enemy knows the worth of our soul even more than we do?

There is a battle going on for our soul that we can’t see. Like the one in Mark 9:25-26 (NLT), “When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Spirit of deafness and muteness,” he said, “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him…” The enemy lost the battle on that day!

When I read Scripture like this, I wonder about the evil spirit of cancer that filled our son. I know there was a battle going on that we couldn’t humanly see. I remember telling our son, Phil, as the chemotherapy flowed into his body one day in the hospital, “Chemotherapy will not cure you, Phil, only God can do that.” He then asked me a very good question. He said, “Then why are we doing it, Mom?” I told him that God has given us medicine to use as a tool sometimes in healing.”

Sometimes Jesus would cast out an evil spirit just by speaking the words in prayer, sometimes He used His own spit and mud to work miracles. Sometimes the person was told to dip seven times in water…whatever it took, ultimately, the healing came from God. The battle is not ours to fight…our fight is to believe that miracles happen, that God heals and that our soul is worth more than this whole world combined!!

Sometimes it seems the battle is lost…because sometimes young boys die and sometimes we don’t get the miracles we are looking for…and yet I read in Mark 7:37 that the crowds were completely amazed by Jesus. “Again and again they said, “Everything he does is wonderful.” (Mark 7:37 NLT)
We need to believe that!
Why?
Because of the soul and its worth.
Because it doesn’t matter if we gain the whole world, if all the kingdoms of earth belong to us, if all the gold and all the oil are ours, if chemotherapy cures or doesn’t cure, it would all be meaningless without the soul being saved on our last day here on earth. The soul is the “bottom line” in all of it! Not our flesh and blood, not our worldly circumstances, but our eternity and where it will be spent. The enemy can do many things to harm us while we are here, what he can’t do is override our decision to follow Jesus Christ into Heaven!

And that is the point that our Father God wants us to get. It’s not that He doesn’t want our lives to be blessed beyond measure, or our bodies to be healed, or that He’s trying to rob us of the pleasures of life, quite the opposite is true…but what’s most important is that He wants us to have more than we could have ever dreamed of internally first, thus finding “true life” and discovering the worth of our very soul to Him. When we realize how precious our soul is, and that Jesus came to earth to save it by dying on the Cross, we can start to rest in the love and care that has been offered to us by our Father God.

We are the soul God created, we are His children, and He longs for us to be part of His family. To “reside” with Him. To be nurtured by Him and cared for by Him. But, so many times we’re tempted to “run away.” The enemy lures us away with the things of this world, making us think those things will satisfy our soul. At first, they seem to, don’t they? But when all is said and done, what are we left with? Things that fade, rust, disappoint and bury us in debt! How do we so easily miss the free gifts that God is offering us in His Word? Things that last forever…His Promises of care, love, peace and strength. Perhaps, like our own children, we don’t realize what our true needs are. We want the candy, not the vegetables, we want the new toy, not the new shoes…like our own children, our real needs and what will bring us true internal joy are very different than our wants and what we think will bring us external happiness. Our true satisfaction comes when we realize God can meet our every need. When we start to experience that deep sense of satisfaction in our own lives. When we realize only He can nurture our soul as nothing else in this world can.

What might not seem like much at the time can become exactly what we need when the Hand of God touches it!

“Why are you so worried about having no food? Won’t you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? What about the five thousand men I fed with five loaves of bread? How many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”
“Twelve,” they said.
“And when I fed the four thousand with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”
“Seven,” they said.
“Don’t you understand even yet?” he asked them.
Mark 8:17-21 (NLT)

We have such a hard time getting it, don’t we? Trust is not easy. Waiting is extremely difficult. Fear seems to come so much quicker than peace when times are hard. Will we “ever learn or understand”? We shouldn’t be surprised that it’s hard; Jesus never said it would be easy, it wasn’t easy for Him when He walked this earth…but we can’t give up. We have much too much to lose. We don’t want to hand over the control of our mind, our will and our emotions to the enemy! That’s like walking right into the enemy’s camp and relinquishing our peace and joy to him.
We need to say,
“No, I will trust! God help me!”
We need to say,
“I’ll wait, God help me!”
We need to say, “I will not fear. God help me!”
God help us not hand over to the enemy what belongs to You…help us fight for our very soul!

In all the things of life, with all that we own, with all that we look at that is around us, all of it combined would not be worth more than a single soul. And if we have trouble seeing the worth of our own soul, think of someone we love…what is his or her soul worth? If on Phil’s deathbed I had been offered the whole world in exchange for his eternal soul, I would not have had to think for even one-millionth of a second, which I would choose. Nothing was worth more than the salvation of his soul. To know that our son lives eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven and that we will see him again one day is far more valuable than anything Satan could ever offer me here on this earth.

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives,
and humbly accept the message God has planted
in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls.
James 1:21 (NLT)

One soul…ours or someone else’s if that helps to put it into perspective, is priceless…no wonder the enemy will fight so hard for it. No wonder he will try to blind us to all that Jesus died to give us. No wonder Jesus said, “It is better to enter the Kingdom of God half blind than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, ‘where the worm never dies and the fire never goes out.’” (Mark 9:47b-48 NLT) When we enter Heaven, our blindness will be healed, our hurts will be gone; our struggles will be far behind us. It won’t matter what we lost or gained on this earth as long as our soul belongs to God on that final day! If we gained the whole world, but enter Hell on our last day, we’re going to be one sorry soul…

Next the Devil took him to the peak of
a very high mountain and showed him the nations
of the world and all their glory. “I will give it all
to you, “ he said, “if you will only kneel down and
worship me.”
“Get out of here, Satan, Jesus told him. “For the
Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your
God; serve only him.’”
Matthew 4:8-11 (NLT)

Jesus knows what’s at stake. We can get distracted and so quickly forget. It doesn’t take much and we can lose track of what’s most important, of Who we should be worshipping, of how our time should be spent.

Our soul…it’s worth fighting for. It’s worth time in the Word, it’s worth time in Prayer, and it’s worth time in getting to know our Savior.

“Is anything worth more than your soul?”
Take a look at what the enemy is doing in your own life to try and get yours!
Then you decide…

Diane