What Shall It Profit a Man?

Even nondescript writers like me have to contend with certain situational constraints, like “first-article-in-the-new-year” expectations, and being a sensitive guy, I know how disappointed you’d be if I ignored them, right? It would be like Thanksgiving without turkey, or not getting to sing “Silent Night” at the church pageant, or getting to the end of a Hallmark movie and watching the lovers just shake hands and exchange sincere wishes for a nice life. So, before moving on to a topic that might actually be worthwhile, let’s get some expected “New Year’s” issues out of the way–like the annual “fat” crisis, for instance.

Disturbing Revelations ~
Every January we discover afresh that we are in the grip of a national fat surplus of epidemic proportions. If we could somehow collect all the excess fat cells being manufactured and hoarded by gluttonous Americans and mold them into candles, we’d probably have enough blubber to illuminate North Korea for a decade–queue the endless list of diet plans.

And if our personal contributions to the surplus fat problem weren’t bad enough, most of us ordinary people (meaning “those who don’t look like fashion models”) are deemed to be miserable failures in nearly every other health-related category as well. According to this year’s crop of experts, we are woefully “out of shape” and rarely do anything that meets their definition of “healthy.”

It’s distressing to be judged every year by people whose entire wardrobe is made of spandex and who live in houses where every piece of furniture is equipped with pedals and weighted pull handles. How can we compete with people who show up at weddings and funerals dressed in leotards and bare-midriff tank tops with matching sweat bands, and whose main purpose in life, when they’re not pumping or pulling on something, is to stroll around casually flexing their muscles and sipping on protein smoothies made of organic kumquats, eucalyptus bark, fish oil, and porcupine saliva.

Returns? Not So Great ~
OK, I may have sounded a little sarcastic, but the January parade of beautiful “TV people” begging us to invest in things guaranteed to transform us into them gets tiresome. Every year they promise that if we buy their machines, eat their food, and drink their concoctions in just the right combination, we’ll finally arrive at narcissistic Nirvana and get to envision our beach blanket as a background for exposing our new-found perfection rather than something to cover up with. It’s a payoff not worth the investment.

Speaking of which, the matter of investments, returns, and the whole idea of profit is a subject dear to the heart of God and worthy of our consideration as we begin 2018. Like it or not, virtually all of us enter the new year with our future tied to some extent to the application of that concept, and we are not alone. The success of God’s mission depends on it as well.

His commitment to the “profit principle” was established in the beginning when He chose to fashion only one specimen of Adam and Eve. He could have created millions of little “Adams,” each with a full complement of ribs for making more “Eves,” but instead, He only created two. He invested everything of value that He had in them and sent them out with this simple instruction, … Be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28 NKJV). In doing that, He introduced a principle that would spread throughout the earth, just like the ones in whom He placed it.

Reinforced by Jesus ~
Jesus highlighted God’s “profit principle” repeatedly, illustrating it in parables like the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), the sower (Luke 8:4-18), and the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9), but the comment after His dissertation on the vine and branches encapsulates it most concisely. He said, … I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit (be profitable), and that your fruit should remain (continue to endure) (John 15:16 NKJV).

We hope that our resources generate profit as we begin 2018, and so does God. It makes sense, then, as we begin the year with Him to consider how His strategy works. He doesn’t spread His resources around in order to counteract potential losses, and He doesn’t commit His treasures to endeavors that have no hope of profitability. He has only one investment vehicle, one means of realizing His hope, and He pours everything into it. God’s willingness to do that is nowhere more indelibly displayed than in the cross of Jesus Christ. He didn’t invest His hope for glorious profit in some kind of real estate deal or business venture. He invested every treasure Heaven had in us. Now He shares that divine strategy with us and offers an investment opportunity with indescribable profit possibilities–but there’s a caveat.

Suppose for a minute that we pulled all of our investment resources, liquidated everything, and used the money to purchase concert tickets, book cruises, and buy gadgets to play with. Where would that leave us at this time next year? How would we feel if all of our expenditures produced nothing that lasted beyond the moment? Then let’s imagine how God would feel if we took all that He invested in us and squandered it ways that produce nothing of value to Him.

A Strategy to Bank On ~
Our omniscient Creator couldn’t come up with a better investment strategy from the divine side than to pour everything He had into the one earthly creature that is “like” Him, and the one thing on the planet that will endure forever. Wouldn’t it make sense for us, then, to adopt the same strategy? If God’s hope of making anything in the world “profitable” involved exhibiting the power of sacrificial love toward people like us, maybe we ought to commit ourselves to the same endeavor.

As the mad rush for profit in 2018 takes off, and as we look for investment opportunities with the greatest potential for enduring returns, Jesus posed this relevant and interesting question: …What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Matthew 16:26 (NKJV)  The stock market is doing well right now, but where will the “futures” they sell fit when God calculates His investment in us?

© 2018 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S.  All rights reserved.

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About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World" For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
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6 Responses to What Shall It Profit a Man?

  1. Well, you did it again, Ron. You are a master word-weaver—making me laugh out loud (enough blubber to illuminate North Korea for a year) and sigh in agreement (A strategy to bank on).
    God bless you in 2018!


    • You are a never-ending source of encouragement, Beckie. You’re forever saying things that sound like you really “get me”, and I worry that normal folks are going to think there’s something dreadfully wrong with you. In spite of that, it’s hard to honestly pray for your recovery from the condition because it’s awfully helpful on this end. Thanks for the bright spot in my day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jerry Daniel says:

    Still looking over your shoulder, my friend. Happy New Year to you and Diane. She is a most patient woman!!


    • Wow… what an unexpected blessing!– Great to hear from you, and hope that you and the family are healthy and that your ministry is off to a fruitful start. I appreciate your taking the time to read and to check in–hope our paths cross again at some point.


  3. Well put, really liked it.


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