“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25,26).
THERE IS NOTHING OF MORE VALUE TO US THAN OUR SOULS, AND WE ARE NOT WISE IF WE HANG ON TO OTHER THINGS THAT JEOPARDIZE OUR SOULS. Jesus went so far as to say that if we were ever faced with a choice between our souls and the entire rest of the world, we would be foolish not to let go of the world and preserve our souls. When the ship is sinking, we must swim away from it.
It is not easy to keep in mind that our intangible, invisible possessions are of greater value than those of a more visible nature. A man, for example, will sometimes be willing to put his entire reputation, his career, his family’s happiness, and many other invisible things at risk for the momentary pleasure of one immoral trinket that is so immediately present to his physical senses that he thinks he can’t possibly do without it. Tangible treasures and physical pleasures can seem so valuable in a moment of temptation that we completely forget about the much greater value of the things we’ll throw away if we yield to the temptation. When we’re hungry enough, we’ll trade our birthright for a bowl of soup. And like Esau, we later regret having done so (Hebrews 12:16,17).
Jesus used some of His starkest language to warn us about the danger of confused values. Do whatever it takes, He said, to sever yourself from anything that endangers your spiritual welfare: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29).
Much of the wisdom of life consists in knowing what to let go of and when to let go of it. Nowhere is there an exhaustive list of all the things that can potentially put our souls at risk. The truth is, there are few things in the world that might not do so under certain circumstances. But whatever threatens to cut us off from God, we should cut ourselves off from that thing. Immediately.
“Imagine a burning house. A few occupants run naked from the house. They abandon everything else to save their lives. Others in that house attempt to save some furniture and other precious possessions. They return into the blazing structure several times in order to bring things out. Ultimately they die in the smoke and flames. This is misplaced attachment” (Pseudo-Macarius).