"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?" ~ Matthew 16:26
Most of us do not think of ourselves as trying to gain the whole world, many of us aren't even interested in becoming wealthy, but how many of us dream of or work towards a comfortable life? Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to live a comfortable life, nothing at all. But when that ideal of a comfortable life trumps our zeal for doing what the Lord calls us to do, you will agree that we have encountered a problem. Not just a mere speed bump, but a mountainous problem.
Imagine this. You are 32-years-old, you have a beautiful wife and four adorable children (yes, you are bias, but that is besides the point). You have a comfortable home, in a middle-class neighborhood. You have two nice vehicles in your drive, and you make a average income at your average middle-class job that you actually enjoy. One Sunday you are sitting in church listening to the story of a missionary couple who has been living in Africa for 10 years and are back in the States to raise awareness to the importance of their work with orphans, most of whose parents died from AIDS. As they share pictures and stories of the devastation, all you can see is the eyes of the children staring back at you and in your heart you hear them crying out for someone to help them. The missionaries share that while they have rescued so many children, they cannot put a dent in the need. Why? Because they simply do not have the man power to expand their their outreach.
Tears run down your face, you look at your wife and see your tears reflected on her face and the look she gives you begs you to help her do something for these children. You look at your own young ones and cannot help but think about how you would feel if they were the ones alone and in such desperate need.
After the service you are one of the first in line to talk to the missionaries. You say, "My heart cries out for these children. I don't make a ton of money, but I will give all that I can to help? I will try to raise awareness, just tell me how. I want to help!" They look you in the eye, "Mr. Johnson, your money could help feed these children and that could save lives, raising awareness would be wonderful, we would appreciate your help with that! But one thing we beg for more then anything else, please pray with us for hearts to be stirred to go and serve. We have a great need for long term missionaries, and frankly, many people express how heart broken they are for these children, but few are willing to serve. Pray, with us that God will work mightily, even in the hearts of those here today, and that He will raise up families willing to serve."
You promise to pray and you mean it with all your heart. You go home burdened for these children, and for weeks and months you pray begging God to stir the hearts of a family to go and serve. One night at the dinner table you look at your wife, "I just cannot forget those children's eyes. The pain in them. I hope the Lord sends someone soon." Your wife turns from feeding the baby and looks deep into your eyes, "Why not us?" You do not grasp what she means for a few seconds and then it hits you. She means, why don't you and your family go to Africa? Your mind begins to whirl. How could you? You have a family to raise, to support, to educate. Besides, it wouldn't be safe there. It would be different. Your mind quickly thinks for twenty reasons why you couldn't. You try to voice some, but even to your own ears your voice sounds strained.
You toss and turn in your bed, you continue to pray that God will raise up a family to go. In fact, you pray harder then ever. And times slips by, months turn to years and the eyes that used to haunt you no longer do so much. You are living comfortably in your middle-class home, working the same middle-class job (though you don't enjoy it as much as you once did). Your children are in middle school and junior high, involved in sports, and thriving.
No, you never go. You still wake up some mornings with the question in your mind, "Why not? What about those children?" But you drown them out with excuses and reasons why you couldn't. After a while you no longer listen to the voice of the Lord nor walk daily with Him because You refuse to hear His voice. You have hardened your heart. You can't leave the comfort of what you know, what is normal, what is safe, even though you know the Lord is calling, you turn a deaf ear.
And then, one day, it's too late. Your life is nearly gone, and your strength is fading and you look back over your life. What do you see?
No, we may not all seek to gain the whole world, but how many of us seek to stay in our comfort zones. To live the comfortable lives we have always known, and are to afraid, to set in our ways, to fearful of what others would think, that we do not forsake all and follow the Master? You say that you love Him, that You will go where He leads, do what He asks, but will you? Will I?