In Matthew 16:26, Jesus tells the crowd, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Simple but profound questions that have the power to change our lives.
To gain the world means to gain all that the world has to offer - money, fame, success, power, satisfaction and much more. To lose our soul means to lose the key to all life which is a relationship with Jesus Christ and access to the presence of God.
First off, it must be made clear that there is nothing wrong with gaining money, fame, success and power if they are God's will. To say the least, God wants every believer to gain blessings here on earth just as much as we are reserved the blessings of heaven. However, what Jesus does not want to see is believers forsaking God for the sake of temporal earthly success.
Many people today try to gain wealth, power and success by their own means and through their own strength. It can be easy to forget that all we have and everything we do comes only as a result of God's grace. Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds us that it is God who gives the ability to produce wealth, yet so many people have the attitude and thinking that their wealth comes primarily from their hard work.
As a result, people like this find it hard to submit to God's will when called to change course, to be generous when God calls them to be generous, or to say no to corruption and cheating when it promises more wealth.
When we chase after earthly blessings as the primary motive of our lives and apart from the will of God, we forfeit the being of our souls. As a result, our souls start lacking the love, compassion, peace, gentleness, patience and self-control that comes only when we abide in Christ. We start living our lives as if our money and fame will last forever when the truth is that it cannot even compare to the blessing of eternity when we make Christ our prize.
When God is our reward, He adds everything we need to it. When Jesus is all we want and desire, we never go hungry, never lack money, never lose influence and never leave the path of success. Proverbs 10:22 says, "The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it."
God wants us to gain the world, but never at the expense of losing our relationship with God. We are called to seek God first in all that we do and allow Him to add the world unto our plates.