Giving Up More…Only to Gain Less (Mark 8:36-37)
Mark 8:36-37, For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
American evangelist Peter Cartwright was preaching from Mark 8:36-37 in 1818 at a Presbyterian Church in Nashville. It was a beautiful October evening, and the church was packed. Just as Cartwright shouted the words, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” in walked General Andrew Jackson who was staying nearby.
Jackson (who didn't come to Christ until late in life) was a fiery-tempered, hard-drinking, horse-racing, duel-fighting hero. Instantly a buzz swept over the congregation and heads turned. The host pastor, Rev. Mac, excitedly pulled Cartwright's coattail and whispered, "General Jackson has come in."
Cartwright roared back, "Who is General Jackson? Who is General Jackson?" He then declared that if the General didn't get his soul converted, he would spend eternity in Hell. Rev. Mac was horrified, and the next morning rose at the crack of dawn to apologize to the General.
But later in the day, Cartwright and Jackson met each other on the street. Reaching out his hand, General Jackson said, "Cartwright, you are a man after my own heart. I am surprised at Mr. Mac, to think I would be offended at you. No, sir; I told him I highly approved of your independence. A minister of Jesus Christ ought to love everybody and fear no mortal man. I told Mr. Mac that if I had a few thousand such independent, fearless officers as you are, and a well-drilled army, I could take old England." A fear of God will inspire you to share the Gospel and lose your fear of men.
These two verses about the soul of man are some of the greatest verses in the Bible to show the importance of salvation. Mark 8:36-37 stresses the incomparable value of the soul, worth more than the whole world. If one should forfeit his soul and die, there is nothing with which he could hope to reclaim it. The loss would be irrevocable.
Jesus puts the matter in financial terms. Paraphrasing, Jesus essentially said, ‘For what profit is it if a man shall become the richest man in the world, but lose his own soul?’ If it were possible for one man to own the entire world, what would be his gain in losing his soul? The devil had in effect offered Jesus the same ‘bargain’ in offering Him all the kingdoms of this world on the mount of temptation. Only a foolish person would sell his soul to the devil for the gain he can give. Nevertheless, men do it all the time. Many are giving up far more to gain far less!
No earthly gain will compensate for a lost soul. There is nothing in this world that can be exchanged for the soul, because the soul is of more value than anything in the world. The price of the soul is so great that all the things of the world put together do not equal its value. There is not enough money in the world ten times over which can compensate the loss of one’s eternal soul. To live for self and fortune while losing one’s soul is not only foolish but fatal.
PRAYER: Father, I thank You for sending Jesus, Who shed His blood on the cross, died in my place for my sins, and rose again the third day, that I would have eternal life. Help me, to share the Gospel message with others. In Jesus name, AMEN.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.