Personal Gain

Personal Gain

Philippians 3:7-9 (NLT) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Would it be safe to say that life doesn’t always turn out as one might plan? I once thought…could apply to any number of situations in life. Good intentions falling short of our expectation condition our trust and limit our optimism early on. Life is hard. For those who experience the school of hard knocks, their heart and mind will try to continue to prepare for the worst giving up hope. There are others who grow up with a silver spoon that will one day be tarnished by disappointment. What then? Can they recover? Or is the fall just a little too far? Optimism and pessimism are opposites yet the same. Emotional beliefs that condition how one perceives that which they can see. It is one’s outlook on life. To the optimist who is positive, the pessimist is too negative all the time. To the pessimist who is a “realist”, the optimist is a constant dreamer. Both are feelings conditioned in our mind usually by the early experiences of life. Neither the optimist nor pessimist has a true perspective of life because each is looking at it from a human point of view. What if we looked at our life as God sees it? What if we decided to believe rather than react to our current conditions and feelings?

Paul had a change of heart. He had a changed mind. All the “things” that once seemed valuable and profitable in life were now worthless. All the religious ideas and notions thrown out compared to just knowing Jesus. What might happen if we considered everything else worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing our Savior, Jesus Christ. Is it even possible to discredit our feelings and personality to conscientiously develop the character and nature of the Lord? I mean truly. Discarding everything else as garbage compared to knowing Him more. Is it possible to stop looking at the Law and comparing our good works to those of others? Is it thinkable to decide that our service is really servanthood of no worth other than our dedication to doing it? I become righteous through Christ. It is my faith in Him alone that I must build my life. Is there profit? What is the gain? I need to know if it is even worth it.

Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT) Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? What is a human soul worth? Each person must decide the value of life. I think in my estimation it would be between $350,000 and $650,000. At least in our son’s case, that was when the insurance company began to deny payment and the hospital would not provide treatment. The treatment was considered to be nonconventional. A stab in the dark. Not worth taking the chance. Why? Well, with treatment he only had a 2% chance of survival but without it he would die in their opinion. When you think that an abortion costs around $500, it becomes clear it is less costly to end life then maintain it.

What is your life worth to you? Let me ask you again. What is your life to you? When you look in the mirror each morning what or who do you see? Are you worth living for? Are you worth dying for? Are you worth the personal effort of caring for? Do you feel like you are worthless? Are you hopeless today? See our perception of self and personal worth directly impacts our outlook on life and willingness to live it to the fullest. Maybe your life has been hard. High five on that one, mine has definitely not been easy either. Maybe it didn’t turn out like you planned, l think most adults feel the same way to one degree or another. Is your life rich and satisfying? Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10) Do you believe it?

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT) For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

As a youth leader in our church, I usually position myself in the back of the church during service. Praying and watching the kids as they enter into worship, it never fails that there are those who look to see what the others are doing. Imitating how their peers act or move and doing the same. They never really press into God’s Presence because they are trying to be like someone else. Okay let’s be honest. Adults…we do the same thing. Exchanging earthly exchanges for church lingo. Surveying the look and sound of other Christians, we change our outward image to blend in with a new crowd entering a different social circle. We look the look, walk the walk and talk the talk, but has anything occurred other than adaptation.

We have a light shining in our heart that is read to burst from within us. It is a treasure. It is a costly investment into humanity. God placed eternity in our heart. Sin blocked our entrance. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows us to access the Kingdom once again. Will His Grace be sufficient for me? Will it be enough to overcome my low self-esteem and denial of self-worth? There is great power inside of each believer looking for a way out. It is the same resurrection power that brought Jesus Christ out of the grave. It is inside of me. It is inside of you. So God allows pressing issues, lingering circumstance, subtle situations to become more pervasive in our life so that it will finally bring down ever wall of pride that keeps us from God’s Best right now.

It is through our sufferings in life that hard hearts are broken, ears can hear and eyes can see the Glory of God making its way through the impossible to the probable in our life. The cracks on the surface of our heart are filled with seeds of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit. If we can just provide the tiniest amount of faith our life becomes profitable again. The truth of the matter, whether we like it or not, is if we had not been broken by this life, not many of us would have experienced Christ as we know Him today. He brings dead things to life.

Ecclesiastes 11:5-6 (NLT) Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

What is the profit margin in our life? In business, this is considered to be an indicator to gauge the financial health of a business. What is the profitability of our life? In this world, profitability is the ability of a business to earn a profit. Sound business plan. However, our life has a purpose that outweighs and outlasts any natural venture. I can become a millionaire, but when I die I become penniless again. Money means nothing in the Kingdom of God. I can have great influence on earth but become one of a worshipping throng when I enter Heaven. Every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord. Those who decide to live for His Lordship now will have a flourishing soul in forever.

I do not know what the Lord is doing in my life. I know that He has a plan with a future and hope. The Lord gives me clear indications and directions by His Spirit. However, I must decide it such a life is profitable to me now. I must choose who I give my life, time, talent and treasure to. So do you? We are all given the same amount of time in any given day. What we do with it is up to us? Do we turn it all over to the world receiving tangible things that will not profit more than our pocket? Or do we turn some of it even the smallest portion back into the Kingdom for profitability? Some may say, I am too busy which only means that you have given your life to something else. We choose the way we spend our life. No one else. It is also within us to change the course of our life anytime it is our desire.

Proverbs 14:22-24 (NLT) If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness. Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! Wealth is a crown for the wise; the effort of fools yields only foolishness.

We are in the process of moving to a new home. Ironically, the new house has the same floor plan as our old one. As I begin to go through the contents packing to move, I have found many things that are not needed any longer. Now all of this stuff will fit in the new house, remember it is essentially the same house in a different location, but moving to our new place has led me to lightening our load. As I come across unnecessary things, I post them online for sale. There is hidden profit in my home that would have never been exposed without a change. We can know the Lord but never apply His Logic or Wisdom to our life remaining unchanged. Or we can take His Word and apply it to our life. Daily sowing into the Kingdom even though it is unseen and seems far away. We decide what is important to us and worthy of our life. Many times this choice reflects our own self-worth. Those who do not understand the investment Jesus made into our life will never seek after His Benefits.

When money is tight, people create a budget. Track expenditures. Cut back. Commitment to the process will yield financial security to those who stick to the plan. Often finding that there was more money than they thought but it was being wasted. One of the most common factors in divorce is financial issues. Stress and worry are often the result of money problems. Imagine what might happen if the whole world went on a budget? Imagine the fiscal change in our economy. It would actually turn our world’s economy upside down as such a decision forces contentment and curves impulsivity. So take it one step further…what if every Christian became a believer reconciling their life to Jesus Christ? Oh come on, let’s not get too crazy.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NLT) But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.

When our baby girl started kindergarten, I went back to work. My intention was to work while the kids were at school and be home with them. Working for the school system seemed ideal, as my schedule reflected theirs even with summers off. That was the initial plan. However, after three promotions, I no longer had a job it became a career. Hours grew longer. Summers evaporated. Stress made its way home. Work even invaded my thoughts long after the day was done. I was not a very nice person.

When our son was diagnosed, I initially was going to alternate weeks with other caregivers. After all, I couldn’t leave my job. I had to work. Deep inside I was able to squelch the guilt that kept rising up. When I arrived at the hospital to accompany our son to his first treatment, he got out of the car and I believe the Lord opened my eyes to the gravity of the situation. As if scales had fallen, I saw just how horribly sick my son was. In that moment, like a heavy chain, I could feel the responsibility of my job fall right off me. I could hear it crashing on the ground. Without the slightest hesitation, I called my boss and told him I cannot come back until I see him through. Ironically, when I returned after three years of back and forth, I tried to pick up that heavy chain again. I couldn’t and it was not for lack of trying. There was no place for it in my life anymore. Things had changed. I had changed. God had filled the void in my life for good.

What will be your breaking point? We must all be broken to be remade in Jesus Christ. The idols of life are justified by the masses yet in the stillness of His Presence it is so simple. What is the profit of our life if we gain the world but lose our soul? It is a valid question. We can answer it consciously and choose life. Or we can wait until the end and discover devastating disappointment. If we have the knowledge of God, it must become understanding. Understanding must grow feet and arms called wisdom to move us from glory to glory as the Lord transforms us into His Image. This will always be a choice never a condition.

The next time you look in the mirror, try to see past your personal appearance to your soul deep within. It is it alive and prospering today. Or has it been neglected to acquire lesser things. This is not always a financial pursuit, it can be anything that potentially takes the place of Jesus in our life. Is it producing anything of worth or just another heartache? You must decide if you are worth living the life that Christ died for you to have. He thought you were worth it. Do you?

3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

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