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The Value Of Your Soul

It is true that “there is no I in T-E-A-M.” But as they say, you can spell “M-E”!


We tend to think that no one individual is worth the price of many. But that does not pan out in the real world.

Sports teams rely upon individual stars for victory — and they often defeat better teams.

Companies have their star employees, whom they tend to pay more than other employees for the extra value they bring to their business. Recently, Mark Zuckerberg remarked that a great engineer is “100 times better” than one who is “pretty good” (Helft, p. A1).

I don’t wish to debate the merits or demerits of this notion, but I do wish to lay stress on this point: teams are all well and good, but there is nothing more valuable than your own soul.

By “soul,” of course, I do not mean merely your life on earth — though that is certainly precious. Rather, I mean that hidden person within you—that essence that will live on beyond the grave and be held accountable to God.


Let us, then, reflect soberly upon the value of your immortal soul.


Matthew 16.26

It is part of the American dream to own property. Land is of tremendous value, garnering wealth not only for those who possess it, but it can potentially benefit generations of descendants for years to come.


In California, property is so highly prized they sell it by the square inch!


How well off would you be if you owned the entire state of Indiana? The Gross Domestic Product (i.e., the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services) of that state is worth more than three hundred billion dollars. Hands down, if you owned a single, modest-sized state, you’d be the wealthiest person alive.

What if you owned the entire country? How much would that be worth?

What about the entire planet?

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the value of all assets in the globe is more than 1500 trillion dollars (Woetzel, et al.). To put that in perspective, if you paid someone $3600 per hour—every hour—it would take you 48 million years to dispense all $1500 trillion! That is inconceivable.


Yet, Jesus says that the globe is nowhere near equal in value to your soul:

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16.26).

These are rhetorical questions. There is no profit in such a worldly transaction. The world will fade away; your soul will endure. And no one will be judged based on how much of the world he acquired for himself, but “each” soul, Jesus explains, will be judged “according to his works” (Mt. 16.27).


So there is nothing in the universe capable of balancing out the value of your soul.


Luke 15.1-7

In Luke 15.1, tax collectors and sinners wanted to learn from Jesus. How wonderful to have sinners interested in righteousness!


But this was not thrilling news to everyone. Sadly, the calloused-hearted scribes and Pharisees “complained” about this (Lk.15.2). These “vipers” (Mt. 3.7) cared nothing for those they deemed of inferior quality. Consequently, they had no joy to see lost souls saved. And thus they muttered and murmured about it.

In response, the savior presented a series of parables designed to expose this ungodly disposition.


First, there is the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the conclusion of which is found in Luke 15.7:

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Second, there is the Parable of the Lost Coin, the conclusion of which is found in Luke 15.10:

“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Third, there is the Parable of the Lost Son, the conclusion of which is found in Luke 15.32 (cf. vv. 23-24):

“It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

The point of these parables is this: the salvation of a single sinner is a joyous occasion for those who are righteous. If, then, you are disgruntled when a sinner comes to God, that says something about your spiritual condition!


But let us magnify our spiritual microscope on the first parable in particular.


In Luke 15.4-6, Jesus says:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”

At once our minds enter into a state of quandary. How impractical! How unwise! Why leave ninety-nine sheep for the sake of just one? You’ll risk losing the bulk of your flock!


Through the years, I have heard several rationalizations of Jesus’ remarks.


For example, some opine that the shepherd likely has ensured that the ninety-nine are safe and secure while he searches for the lost one. Yet there are no reassurances of that nature in the parable. He mentions nothing of a fenced yard or a barn. In fact, he says they were left in the “wilderness” (Lk. 15.4).


This was open pasture land — a “wild” territory — away from human populations (where wild animals normally live). Hence, though the ninety-nine were presently safe and in no need of rescue, still that does not mean they were totally free from danger. Any one of them could have fallen prey to a predator. Any one of them could have wandered off further into the wilderness. Indeed, that’s how the one sheep got lost in the first place!


Therefore, leaving the ninety-nine entailed a great risk to the shepherd. And that is the point. One soul is worth risking everything to God! And when he "finds" that soul, he rejoices.


That said, if you still wonder about the wisdom of leaving the ninety-nine for the sake of one, then perhaps you are looking at it from the wrong perspective. What if you are that one lost sheep? Wouldn’t you consider your shepherd’s actions quite reasonable then?


In short, Jesus is not merely invested in the welfare of the group, but of each individual soul! Such is your soul’s value in his estimation.

Romans 14.15

Next, we turn to Roman 14, a chapter dealing with matters of “opinion” or indifference — i.e., things that are neither required nor prohibited (Rom. 14.1, ESV). In particular, the apostle discusses the role of food in the Christian life.

In the era of Christ, neither eating meat nor eating vegetables is off-limits, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14.17). As long as we eat our food with thanksgiving “to the Lord,” our meals are acceptable to him (Rom. 14.6; cf. 1 Tim. 4.4).

Therefore, Paul insists that meat-eaters should not “despise” (exoutheneo—lit, “cast out as nothing”; treat as a zero) vegetarians — nor vice-versa (Rom. 14.1-3). Both are acceptable and neither is wrong.


However, some, for whatever reason, are “weak in the faith” (Rom. 14.1) — that is, they have doubts about the rightness of eating animal flesh — so they eat only “vegetables.” Paul’s judgment is this: “God has received” them — and so should we (Rom. 14.3, 1).


Accordingly, if meat-eaters give vegetarians “grief” (lupeo—distress) over their diet (or vice-versa), they are “not walking in love” (Rom. 14.15). And so he admonishes:

“Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14.15; cf. 1 Cor. 8.11).

This passage is another demonstration of the value of a single soul. Certainly, Christ died for the whole world (cf. 1 John 2.2). But the expression, “the one for whom Christ died,” indicates that his sacrifice was not merely a collective good, but a personal offering designed for each soul individually.

The apostle’s point is this: Christ valued that particular brother’s soul so much that he gave up his life for him. It is therefore wrong to be so insensitive concerning that brother’s spiritual wellbeing that you wound his weak conscience by your self-absorbed predilections. Instead, you ought to value his soul just like Christ did (cf. 1 Jn. 3.16). In matters of indifference, then, we must be considerate of and sensitive to the spiritual scruples of others.


Each soul, therefore, is precious.


Galatians 2.20

Finally, let us develop this point one step further.


Again, Christ certainly placed value on the whole of humanity. He said he gave himself out of love for “the world” (Jn. 3.16). Paul wrote that Jesus “gave himself for our sins” (Gal. 1.4) and that he “loved us” and gave himself “for us” (Eph. 5.2). His love is expressed collectively.

And to repeat: in Romans 14.15 (and 1 Corinthians 8.11), I learn that Jesus also died for my brother, whose soul I should cherish highly.


But Paul does not stop there. In Galatians 2.20, the apostle affirms that Jesus “loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2.20). The Lord didn’t die just for the masses; nor even merely for your brother; he gave his life for your soul specifically, as well as for “me.” His love is expressed personally.


I may know nothing of who you are. Yet there is one thing I do know. Your spiritual well-being is precious to the Savior, and so it is to me.

Conclusion

There is a thought-provoking hypothetical that captures the value of your soul. I am certainly not the first to share it, nor will I be the last. But before we come to it, quickly consider these points:


First, John the immerser proclaimed that Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1.29). He “was wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53.5). In short, Jesus died to save us from our sins.

Second, there are about eight billion people in the world today. How many billions of souls have existed across the centuries? Abraham’s descendants alone are as numerous as the stars of the sky and the grains of sand by the sea (cf. Gen. 22.17; 13.16; 32.12)! All of them have sinned (Rom. 3.23).


Now this: What if every single one of those billions of souls had lived a perfectly sinless life? What if all of them were still right with God? Except…

You.

You alone—of all the billions of souls ever in existence—have taken the forbidden fruit. Would Christ still have come to earth to die for you—perhaps even be murdered by you (since you would be the only sinner present to do it)? Would he still allow himself to be wronged by you so that you might be saved by him?

In a heartbeat!

So then, if he values your soul that much, shouldn’t you?


If you are not now spiritually conscious, why not awaken your mind to the value of your soul? If you have never concerned yourself with matters eternal before now, put it off no more.


Let yourself learn about God and what it takes to get to Heaven. Be good to your soul. Feed it with spiritual nourishment. Do not deprive it of what it needs to carry on not only through this life but into the next. Since your soul is priceless, it will be well worth the investment!


Helft, Miguel. “For Buyers of Web Start-Ups, Quest To Corral Young Talent.” The New York Times, 18 May 2011.

Woetzel, J., Mischke, J., Madgavkar, A., Windhagen, E., Smit, S., Birshan, M., Kemeny, S., & Anderson, R. J. (2022, March 11). The rise and rise of the global balance sheet: How productively are we using our wealth? McKinsey & Company. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/financial-services/our-insights/the-rise-and-rise-of-the-global-balance-sheet-how-productively-are-we-using-our-wealth




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