Let us pray: Dear Savior, teach us today to value our soul above our body. Teach us that earthly life cannot be compared to eternal life with You. And also teach us to preserve our soul’s salvation by clinging to You in humble faith which isn’t afraid to show itself. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE SAVIOR OF OUR SOULS
TEXT: Mark 8:34-38
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
So, how much have you lost in the market during the past year? I’ll bet you don’t even want to think about it. And how much has your house lost in value? Ditto. We’re all poorer when it comes to our personal net worth than we were just one year ago. I’m reminded of one radio commercial for a couple of brothers who are financial managers. Their key phrase is: Don’t lose the principal! That’s wise advice, isn’t it? And it’s hard to implement.
As much as people talk about their financial assets and value them, there is one asset class that almost no one ever discusses or even considers. The amazing thing about this asset is that it is the only measure of wealth that is entirely your own and that you get to carry it with you when you die! What am I talking about?–Your eternal soul. Well, this morning I am going to talk about it by reminding all of you:
DON’T LOSE THE PRINCIPAL!
Exactly what makes you valuable to God? Why did God choose to send His Son into this world to suffering and die in your place? God didn’t experience the pain of the cross for animals. He didn’t die for plants. He didn’t pour out His blood to save the planet. No, He did all that for you and me because only we possess eternal souls. We possess a part of God. We possess the “breath of life” that He breathed into us when our first parents were created. Only we have souls.
Since our eternal souls are given to us by God Almighty we’re eternally valuable to Him. Losing just one soul hurts Him. It rips out His very heart, because part of Him is in us. So, our souls are our most precious possession. They are the “principal” that God has given to us. And why did He give them to us? For what purpose?—It’s obvious, isn’t it? We’re to invest our souls for His glory and return interest to Him on His investment.
Think of the passage: “Let your light so shine before men that they can see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Or, how about when Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”? Finally, life is all about returning interest to Him on the gift of our souls. And we do that through both words and by our actions.
That leads us to our second question: How can you return your value to Him? What specifics do we need to follow? Here’s where our lesson helps us greatly. “Then Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Interest on your soul must always take the form of self-denial. And no, we’re not talking here about the superfluous stuff like giving up meat during Lent, or chocolates, or resolving to exercise every day. True self-denial is about giving up sin. Note well that Jesus says: “deny himself.” What are you to deny yourself? You know the answer. You need to really work at saying: “No” to sin. Let’s face it; sin is the easiest path through life there is. It’s easy to lapse into taking God’s name in vain because everyone else does it. It’s easy to skip worshiping God each week, because most others do so. It’s easy to rationalize not giving an offering each week because: “I’m not wealthy.”—Even though you’re rich beyond compare in Christ! It’s easy to gloss over any sense of personal honor, of paying your bills, of being responsible for your actions because: “the bail-out government says it’s o.k—I’m a victim, too.” Sin, our failure to live up to God’s high standards in our thoughts, words, and actions, is the easy road. But, it’s not the road of the cross. It’s not the road of return on God’s investment in you. And when we fail to really stand up for the gospel and appreciate it, we’re actually losing on the principal, our souls. And I think all of us know that if that goes on very long, nothing’s left.
Lest you think this is just “preacher talk” and not reality, ponder the words of God’s Son: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Everyone in this room has spent, is spending, or will spend their entire lives trying to “get ahead.” It’s called: work, isn’t it? We work, we spend, we save, we plan, we invest, and we hope for the best. We have dreams about our future. We believe our efforts will all pay off in the end. That’s what keeps us going each day. And yet, Christ says right here that all that effort is nothing if we fail to invest our souls in and for Him. In essence, He’s saying: Don’t lose the principal!
Down deep, we know that to be true. It’s a visceral thing, isn’t it? We know we have a soul and we know it’s very important because God made us that way and put it into us. So, why be ashamed of it? Why be ashamed to honor Christ with your soul? Why be ashamed to volunteer around church, to sing praises to Him in the choir, to sacrifice some of your financial resources to and for Him? Why be ashamed to target certain people at work and discuss Christ with them? Why be ashamed to talk about Jesus with your relatives? And if anyone asks “why are you doing this?”–just remind them that you’re returning interest on God’s investment!
One last item. Never forget that God not only gave you your soul, but that He invested the blood of His Son in saving it! Since we bankrupt ourselves through sin, God bailed us out by making up our total loss when Christ died for our souls. Moreover, God also provided us with an infinite reserve of interest to draw upon—Christ’s complete holiness and forgiveness—because our own reserves run out O so quickly. And so, armed with a secure principal in Christ, and armed with unfailing reserves of strength, help, guidance, and joy we truly can “let our light shine, carry our cross, follow Him, and reap heavenly rewards.” Yes, faith in Jesus ultimately preserves our souls and keeps our principal alive and interest-bearing. All this because Christ exchanged, forfeited His life, for our soul’s salvation. Amen