|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on March 24, 2019 at 2:55 PM|
Forfeiture is the loss of rights to one’s property and most often occurs because one has neglected one’s duty. Jesus cautioned His disciples against forfeiting something that is infinitely precious…one’s soul. The soul is not referred to much today. Many people want to be known as “spiritual” but where does the soul enter the picture? Why would these words of Jesus matter to people living in the 21st century? Is the soul something precious?
First of all, what is the soul? The dictionary defines it as the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being, that which is immortal, which will live forever. Where does this idea come from? In Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, God breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul (KJV).
This soul is of great value to God, for it is with the soul one worships God (Psalm 103:1), loves God (Deuteronomy 6:5), serves God (Joshua 22:5), yearns for God (Psalm 42:1), clings to God (Psalm 63:8) and so forth. The soul finds rest in God alone, according to the Psalmist (Psalm 62:5) and Jesus reiterated that in Matthew 11:29. The connection of our soul with God is unique to human beings who were made in His image.
When some part of the body is amputated, there is significant pain. When we ignore the needs of the soul or neglect to nurture it, our spirits become vulnerable to spiritual pain. Without recognizing it, this may become the most severe form of separation anxiety. We are choked by the cares of this world (Mark 4:19) and slowly the soul loses its vibrant life-force. We may even try to fill the void by using artificial limbs, but nothing can take the place of the real thing. Jesus identifies the frustration of such an attempt. “What can a man give in exchange for his own soul?” What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
What happens to lost souls? Jesus is coming again. “He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). On the surface that might appear to be achievable…by our works we can then enter into heaven. Right? Wrong. God looks deep into the soul, judging it on the motivation for its deeds. The superficial action may look good to other people, but how does God see our hearts? Do we seek to bring Him glory by what we do? Has this good deed cost us anything? (Matthew 16:24).
Today so many are suffering spiritual pain – anxiety, depression, unresolved anger. Jesus longs to give these people rest. The man known for his wisdom wrote: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). A principle is spelled out by Jeremiah: “Stand at the crossroads and look [this is where we make choices]…ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls”(Jeremiah 6:16).
Jesus, challenging His followers then and now, references our choices. Do we want to save our lives, do we fear death at the hands of our enemies so much that we might renounce the gospel? There are modern martyrs being beaten and imprisoned, and even put to death because they have refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
Or – are we willing to lose our lives in order to save them for eternity in heaven with Him, by remaining true to our faith? (Matthew 16:25).