Read: Matthew 16:24-28
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? (v. 26)
Recently, I had to confront a student over an issue of academic misconduct. The individual was an excellent student, a record-breaking athlete, and an engaging person. And yet, during a time when she felt pulled in several directions, she made a bad decision. As we sat and had a difficult conversation, I reminded her of all of her strengths and asked, “Was it worth risking all of that for a relatively minor assignment?”
In Matthew 16, Jesus is teaching the disciples about self-denial. Following Jesus requires his disciples—then and now—to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. In fact, the one who abandons the path of Christ in an effort to save their soul will be the very one who loses it. In a sense, Jesus is engaging in a difficult conversation with those who are considering the pursuit of other options, asking, “Is it worth risking your soul for such minor attainments?”
Our culture is designed for immediate gratification. Fast food, TV shows that are on demand, and—in some markets—printed books that can be ordered and delivered the same day. These things are not bad in and of themselves. But the nurturing of a soul occasionally requires the denial of that which we long for. This is analogous to the spiritual discipline of fasting. Are we able to abstain from the good in order to attain the best? —Duane Loynes
Prayer: Father, give us the strength to deny ourselves and run after you.