Where’s the Line?

Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

Here’s a question that has been reverberating in my mind a lot recently. My second question concerning Jesus’ question concerns the best way to understand “gain the whole world.” What does that mean? Have I gained the whole world? No. . . but, maybe?

What a question Jesus asks his followers. And, if I apply that question to each situation in my life, answers invariably come. I don’t necessarily like the answers, but they come nonetheless. For example, take a small issue like purchasing a book. I’m a reader and I read widely in the area of theology, spirituality, worldview, etc. What are the chances the next book I buy is really essential? What if each book that sits on my shelf is yet another physical reminder of the entrenching worldliness in my heart? St. Paul writes that “knowledge puffs up”, right? Is there  line? If so, how can I find it?

Gaining the world might not necessarily refer to possessions. Consider the fear of man. Is it possible the desire to be well-liked is actually a craving for man’s approval, or a means of gaining the world? Is it possible being well respected and liked all is a stop on the tracks toward death?

Can the “line” be as simple as answering the yes/no question, “Is this necessary for life and godliness?” Or, “Will this thing/event/etc. help me better love God and serve my fellow man?” I don’t know. All I do know is that I don’t want to gain the world and lose my soul. Maybe I’m already lost and holding a world.

Asking “where’s the line” is the wrong question. Rather, we should ask, “which direction is Jesus going?” Holiness is not a line you cross and then hug; holiness is a path up a steep mountain you walk, taking care each step is firm before moving on, all the while know you are not alone because your God and savior already walked that path, reached the summit, and then came back down for you.

Jesus’ life is the path. May we take honest looks at our own hearts so as to see whether we walk Jesus’ path.

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