“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul?
Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
A few years ago, Americans were collectively outraged when the corporate fat cats of Enron made off with millions from a company they had run into the ground while their loyal and hardworking employees suffered the loss of pension and livelihood. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. The government's prosecution of these corporate scoundrels provided what we all knew that justice demands.
While we all could smell the rat in the Enron scandal, we tend to believe our own stew has a less pungent odor. We tell ourselves, “I haven't stolen anything.” “I haven't cheated anyone.” Perhaps not, but the greed that moves the executive to swindle and the thief to steal is the same greed that cools our hearts with a love of money and possessions. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” writes the Apostle Paul.(1Timothy 6:10) He is proven right from the scandals made public in the news and in the scandals that live on privately in our own hearts.
Jesus had it right. “A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) Of what then does life consist? What is it that gives life value? Again, Jesus has the answer. “Do not seek food, clothes, what you will eat or drink... Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
It is the Kingdom of God! A kingdom that does not decay, that won't grow old, that won't wear out, that won't need to be replenished or replaced. God's kingdom is eternal. God's kingdom will be going strong long after the polish has worn off the Rolls Royce and long after the Rolex has stopped counting time. God's kingdom is forever.
But what of that justice? If the Enron execs got what they deserved for their greed, what about us? What is the cost for our sins? Higher than we can pay. It's one thing to sin against your neighbor, it's quite another to sin against God. You can pay off your neighbor and make that right. But you can never pay off God.
So God paid for us what we could not pay. “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (1Peter 1:18-19) God sent Jesus, his own son, to die in our place, to pay our debt for our guilt so that we could inherit the kingdom of God.
How's that for a return on an investment! We put in nothing but our sin. We receive in return the riches of heaven. It's hard to imagine. But that is God's gift to us.