Our Lord Jesus asked His apostles, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37). These questions of Christ get my attention. In an age when we are told that possessing material goods is the purpose of life, we need to go back and listen to the Lord’s words here.
Please understand that one’s soul is his greatest possession. The eternal soul of man is of such value that Jesus died so that men’s souls might be saved (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9). The eternal soul of man is just that -- eternal. It will last after this world is on fire (II Pet. 3:10)! It is the immortal soul that continues. “Then shall the dust (our bodies) return to the earth as it was,” but the spirit of man will return to God’s care (Ecc. 12:7). Do we appreciate the true value of the soul?
I am not sure we always appreciate the value of the soul. As I observe men, I see them exchange their eternal souls for doctrinal error (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1; Rom. 16:17; II Pet. 2:1-3). I see others exchanging their souls for drinking and drugs (I Pet. 4:3-4; Prov. 20:1; Gal. 5:19-21). Still, others will exchange their souls for ungodly acts like stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and lying (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; Eph. 4:25-32). In other words, folks are saying that practicing these things are more important and are of a higher value than their souls’ salvation. Please reread Mark 8:36. What is actually gained when folks spend their lives in such sins?
We are very short-sighted, aren’t we? We think satisfying the flesh will result in a satisfied soul. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The fact is that if someone were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, the silver, the diamonds, the precious gems, the money, etc., none of this would equal the value of his soul.
Some, though, don’t even need this much to exchange their souls! Some will jeopardize their souls and even deny plain Scriptures to avoid contradicting family members or some respected person (Jn. 1:11; Mk. 7:6, 8-9, 13). Some do it by yielding to others’ ungodly pressure rather than listening to God (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 12:42-43). Yet, others exchange their souls by going back into the world after learning the truth (Lk. 8:14; II Tim. 4:10)! (Notice that I added Scripture references to show that the problems that plague us are the same problems that plagued people in the first century!)
Is it any wonder the words of Christ, not only in Mark 8 but throughout Scripture, are applicable today? Our needs and concerns are the same now as they were then. Our need to stand firm and hold tightly to our soul’s salvation is just as needed now as it ever was (I Thess. 5:21; II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 10:23)!
Friend, what will you give in exchange for your soul? Could it be you have already done this? Some folks are exchanging their souls for personal pursuits, personal sins, and pleasing self, and they are being short-changed! Don’t allow this to happen to you!
We can avoid this happening to us when we deny ourselves and follow the Lord (Mk. 8:34)! We can prevent this by determining to live by faith (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then, we need to live a faithful life to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let us present our bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God (Rom. 12:1-2). We can make sure that our souls are not exchanged for the wrong things, but these kinds of actions and decisions must be made today! Now (II Cor. 6:2)! Some wait until it is too late. Don’t be like them!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
John the Baptist (or John the Immerser) stands as a key figure in Bible history. It was he who was the forerunner for Christ. He “prepared the way” for Jesus by preaching repentance and telling folks the Messiah would soon be on earth (Mk. 1:2-5). In his humility, he was quick to tell people that he wasn’t the Messiah (Jn. 3:28). John thought he wasn’t worthy to untie the Messiah’s shoes (Mk. 1:7)! In our vernacular, he was like the best man at a wedding (Jn. 3:29). He would rejoice for the groom and get out of the way (Jn. 3:30)! Those who have studied about John say that the majority of his work took place over a matter of months. Not only this, but his work overlapped with Christ’s, though John was finishing up as Christ was starting!
Mark 6 records a day that would change the course of John’s life. We know John had preached about the need for repentance (Mk. 1:4; Matt. 3:2). Yet, there was a time in which John made things “personal.” He stood up to Herod and let him know it wasn’t lawful that he’d be married to his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias (Mk. 6:17-18). John stood for the truth, and though imprisoned for preaching the truth and ultimately losing his life, he didn’t back down, apologize, or compromise the truth.
Such an example ought to cause us to stand up and cheer. John takes his place with so many Old and New Testament worthies who chose death over compromise (Heb. 11:32-39; Acts 7:54-60; Rev. 2:13). His brave actions haunted wicked Herod afterward. We see that when Jesus began His preaching in earnest, Herod was convinced that Jesus was actually John that he had killed. Now, we know why the apostles told Jesus that some thought Him to be John (Matt. 16:14). It is because Herod insisted John had been raised from the dead and was preaching once more (Mk. 6:14-16).
Why might Herod have made any connection at all between Jesus and John? May I suggest it’s based upon the subject matter in His preaching? Jesus came preaching, “repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17), as did John (Matt. 3:2). Jesus didn’t compromise with those in error when preaching (Mk. 7:5-16), and neither did John (Mk. 6:18). Even in death, we see that just as the disciples laid John’s corpse in a tomb (Mk. 6:29), so did the disciples of Christ do this for His corpse (Matt. 27:57-60). Of course, the difference is that in three days, Jesus resurrected while John’s body remained in the grave (I Cor. 15:1-8).
Later, there were people who took note of the fact that the apostles had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Why did they say this? For many of the same reasons, Herod saw a similarity in the teaching of John and Christ. In light of these facts, I have a simple question to ask.
Who do people think of when they see you? Do your actions and words remind people of Christ or someone else? Christ left you an example that you might follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21). Are you following Him? If not, why not? When people see you, do they see Christ in you (Gal. 2:20; Matt. 5:16)? If not, who do they see and why? Herod saw a connection between John and Jesus. Does the world see a connection between you and Christ?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:
- “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
- “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
- “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).
This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.”
As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).
When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?
Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.
Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!
Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs