For what shall it profit us?

By Robert C. Oliver - Contributing columnist


Some five years ago we presented an article with the title, “What will it matter in a hundred years?”. Since the average lifespan of man is less than a hundred years, it is likely that anyone that was old enough to read that article will be dead before that hundred years had expired. Then, all the things that seem so important to us in this life would be of absolutely no value to us. Other things that we could have devoted our most sincere efforts to would have proven to be much more valuable. Jesus once used two questions to point to the same truth about where our real attention should be focused while going through this life. He asked, “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?”. Toward this end, we wish to examine a few of those things that seem so important to us in this life as compared to an alternative focus. Some of our points may well be some that were used in that article of five years ago, but others will be different. We might add, not everyone is enamored with the things we note so many seem to think are so important, but there is an obvious lust for these things by many. We might also add that the possessing of these things is not wrong within itself, but their value is temporal at best.

Riches and wealth would have to be at the top of the list no matter how often we consider this subject. Multitudes live life grabbing, scrambling and clawing for every dollar they can accumulate. It is true that we need some amount of riches to just survive, but when we come to the end of this physical life, how much will those riches be worth to us. All will be left behind, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (I Cor. 6:7). As God told the rich man who was busily piling up his wealth, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:20). He who has accumulated a vast amount of wealth and he who has lived his entire life in poverty will both have the same amount of worldly riches at the moment of their death. Therefore, it would be wise for us to do what Jesus said, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matt. 6:19-20).

Exercise and physical health is another focus of many today. Many work out regularly at the gym. Others can be seen running or biking along our roads. We are constantly bombarded with information about this food or that food being good or bad for our health. As already noted, it is certainly not wrong to be concerned about our physical health and certainly exercise and proper nutrition are important to overall good physical health. However, no matter how much effort we put into our exercise and our diet, we will still one day die. As the Hebrew writer stated, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). As king David was on the threshold of death, he stated, “I go the way of all the earth…” (I Kings 2:2). Reading through the genealogies of those early humans on earth who lived hundreds of years, one will find at the end the words, “and he died” (Gen. 5:5). One can be physically healthy and materially wealthy and at the same time be spiritually sick and poor. It would do us well to be as was Gaius, of whom the apostle John could write, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (III John 2).

Big expensive houses are desired by the masses. Often people purchase houses that are much more than they can really afford and often much larger than they have any need for. Such excessive dwelling places may be a boost to our pride and provide much pleasure, yet they too shall pass away. It is true that we need a physical dwelling place while in this life, it is important to keep in mind that a more permanent dwelling place is needed. Paul wrote, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18). But Paul also said, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:1). Though the earthly house of this tabernacle Paul spoke of was our physical body, the fact remains we will have an eternal house in heaven. Jesus said that there were many mansions in the Father’s house and He would prepare a place for us (John 14:2-3).

Our society is infatuated with the clothing we wear and the food that we eat. Many want to have all the name brands of clothing and eat the meals of the rich while neglecting the spiritual clothing we must wear in order to have an eternal home in heaven (Gal. 3:27) and feasting on the spiritual food of God’s word which is the “power of God unto salvation” (I Pet. 2:2; Matt. 4:4; Rom. 1:16). In short, “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33). (Send any questions or comments to:

By Robert C. Oliver

Contributing columnist
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