Tom Hinkle - Values - Eugene, Oregon - October 8, 2006

Matthew 16:24, "Then said Jesus unto His disciples, 'If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My Sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?'" What shall a man give in exchange for his soul? What Jesus was trying to teach at this time was something that we would probably called today, values. We hear it more often today probably in the area of political platforms, core values. What it is referring to is, what you value most. Thinking about this in the last few days, it seems to me, everything boils down to my values. What do you want? Do we want this more than this? One thing more than another.

The principles that Jesus was trying to teach was that there is a difference between natural values and spiritual values. He said, "If you should gain the whole world; in other words, if you should gain every natural thing on earth." We cannot imagine what it would be like to be king of the whole world. Everyone here would be our servants, everything that is here is ours, and we own it. He said that if this were possible that it still wouldn't be worth one soul. Everyone of us has a soul. He said, "What shall a profit in a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" In the verse before that, He said, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever will lose his life for My Sake shall find it." Some have referred to this as the profit and loss statement of the Kingdom of God.

I don't know that much about business. Some of you that work in corporations would know that at the end of the year, or the fiscal year, you figure out whether you make money or lost money. You have this profit and loss statement made and it shows what was spent and want all was earned and what the difference is. When you look it all over, it doesn't matter how much was spent, what matters is that you have earned more than you have spent and that tells you what your profit is. What Jesus was referring to was, is there going to be a profit for having lived on the earth? In other words, let's say that we lived for a lifespan of somewhere in the seventies, some of you have already beat that by quite a bit, so you are definitely living on borrowed time. Borrowed time is not a bad thing because you are not paying interest on it. You are making profit out of it. Really, this thing you can do is live on borrowed time because that is the most profitable time that you are going to have. Then what He was saying was that if you spend a normal lifespan, at the end of it what do you want to have leftover? Is it going to look like you have spent more than you have gained, or are you going to have gained more than you have spent? It is pretty obvious that if someone has spent 70 years and gained eternal life, that is a profit beyond measure. That is one of these things that continues to pay dividends, it just keeps multiplying itself because the interest becomes part of the principal then that means more interest. It is just this unending rolling over of the profit, so it just grows, and grows.

So, 70 some years for eternal life is just like nothing, like spending pennies for dollars. I don't think that it is in a fluke that Jesus used a statement like this for the Jewish people who were so financially oriented whole thing that they were not going to miss the point on a statement like this. When we look at our lives, what we want to ask ourselves is that question that Jesus asked, if you gain the whole world and lose your soul, would that be profitable? Then He put it in one other sense and said, "Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" In other words, what would you sell your soul for? I remember taking an English literature class and one of the stories that I read was "The Devil and Daniel Webster." Of course it is a little piece of fiction but a man sold his soul to the devil, then he decided that he had made a bad deal and he got Daniel Webster to get him out of the contract. I almost think that there are lawyers that would be good enough today that when you get right down to it would not want to take that chance today. You know, that's what Jesus was saying, what would you sell your soul for?

When I first began to walk with God and to confess Jesus in my life, someone said to me, and he was a young person who had gone further than I had, he just said, "The devil will not give you $1 million for your soul if he can buy it for ten cents." He gets a lot more of them for ten cents than he does for $1 million. We need to all stop and think about what are the types of things that we would sell our souls for. Often it is not the one million-dollar item. I don't know of anyone that I can think of that has purposely sold their soul. I have not met that person yet, "I would give my soul if I could just have this or that," I have not met that person yet. And yet I have met multitudes of people, and you have too, that unconsciously had done exactly that. I happen to think now of a man who is only one out of many, skipping the details, he just never had time for Jesus in his life. One time, he was even asked the question why he didn't serve God. Others around him were seeking the things of God for eternity and yet he just didn't seem to care anything about that. When asked why he didn't do something about it, he just said, "Well, I just don't have time. I am busy trying to make a living for my family and people that I work with well. It just wouldn't work in there, but someday, I do plan to serve God, to give my life over to God." I knew the man very well. He came over to our house a lot. They were good friends of ours. One day just very suddenly, he was gone into eternity and he had never found that time. So, even today, you could look at his life and he would say he sold his soul for a job, for some money to feed his family. I sold my soul for the admiration of the men that I worked with because they would not have admired me very much if I tried to serve God.

There would be quite a number of things that we could all look at and say, "Well, that wasn't very much." He just didn't get much for his soul. What Jesus was trying to teach was how to value our soul, how to put a higher value on it. It is difficult for us to equate values in spiritual things. We are very acquainted with natural values. If somebody shows up with a new car, we don't ask questions that are not polite in our society, but you wonder what spiritually, what Jesus taught was a people that were very lacking in spiritual values. They didn't understand the worth of just a few words of kindness. They didn't understand the worth of an act of the love of God. They didn't see that there was a value in those things that are the fruit of the spirit and yet they were there, they were all around them that they never saw a value in it.

I remember a fellow who was an auctioneer, a very good auctioneer. Of course, being an auctioneer, you were called on to sell every kind of item known to man, from real estate to estates, just go in and sell everything that was there. Here is a man who needs to know what things are worth. He made that his life ... to know all of these things so that he would know whether he was doing a good job for somebody or not. One of his favorite sayings, because I sat in some of his auctions, he would be rattling along you know, with his chant, then he would throw in this sentence, "Watch your values folks," and keep right on going. You hardly caught what he said but everybody was used to him enough to know that something was going under its value. He would just say, "Watch your values, folks," and keep right on with the sale. What it was, was that he would know that the crowd had kind of gotten, what would you say, lazy. They were not paying attention anymore. That is when people get bargains because they didn't realize the value and somebody would get something really cheap. He would know because he never ever lost his interest in it. He knew the value of things so he would just say, "Watch your values, folks" and everybody would stop talking and look at what he was holding up or what was on the block and they would begin to calculate, "What is that we are looking at and what is it worth?" You know, everybody wants a bargain so immediately it would hold the sale up.

That's kind of what Jesus was doing with these few words that He threw in with a little bit of teaching that He was doing that day. He was more or less saying, "Watch your values, folks." You could easily be taken, some folks say take it easy in life but that is the easiest way to be taken in life, just by taking it easy and not paying attention. Life goes by very, very fast. I remember asking an old sister worker, she was in her eighties at the time, she was on borrowed time, I think it was her birthday, I had just discovered that she was 80 some years old. I was just in my twenties and I remember making the remark, "83 years, that's a lot of years." When you are twenty, it is anyway. She said, "It was hardly anything; it went just like that." I was kind of amazed. How could you think that 80 years went so fast? I was only in my twenties and they went fairly fast but I thought I've got 60 left at least. The older people that I talked to know say, "I don't know where life went; it sure went fast." If I ever find out where those years went, I am going to find a big stockpile of them because I have lost a lot of them. We feel that way but they are just natural years and they really aren't worth very much in the light of eternity but they are all that we have to buy eternity with. That is all we've got and that's what we are using to make the exchange for the soul with.

I know that none of you here today would ever walk out the door and meet the devil, no matter how good-looking he or she was, and say, "I am going to sell my soul." But you know, it might not be much further down the road when we do meet things and we say, "It wouldn't hurt to just stay out of meetings for a few weeks or a few months," or, "I'll just take a little time off because it is inconvenient." Or we just get to not paying attention about our lives and start giving more to the natural side of life and less to the spiritual side of life then we get to 50 years down the road and we realize that we don't have spiritual life anymore, and we say, "I wonder where that went. I wonder what happened." It was that little bit, just ten cents at a time and Satan bought us out. We actually sold our soul and didn't even know that we were doing it.

My brother said several years ago ... we had stopped in Las Vegas and we'd never been there before. Jim commented as we were going out the other side of town, "That's the first time I have ever been robbed without a gun being involved." You know, he had taken his wallet out of his pocket himself, totally willingly. When he left he felt robbed, and he was. It was the type of robbery that robs us of our soul just a day at a time. What is a dollar, when you lose that? Well, what is $10 when you can win it all back, then what is $100? It is gone just one at a time and that is life. You know, I could spend a few days for myself and ignore God or maybe a few months, or a few years. Before we know it, life is over and where did we spend it? We know we spent it on something that turned out to be a total loss. Those 70 years purchased us nothing and now they're gone. Now they're gone never to be returned and they're not ours any more. We only have them for a short little time. Jesus gave two parables, the parable of the talents and the parable of pounds, and they were very similar to that about spending something and what you can make out of it. This matter of values is something that has been impressed upon me for quite a while. I'll tell you how important Jesus made it.

In Luke 14:26, "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple." That is how big of a value that he stressed. He said, "Hate not his father and mother, wife and sister." I am certain that Jesus never hated anyone Himself and He wasn't asking us to hate anyone in this life. He was saying that if any of these would come before following Him, then you're going to be lost. That is how valuable eternal life is. It is so valuable that we can't let that person, no matter how close in this life, rob us of our soul or our eternal life. I think that that is more often what people get robbed by than by wealth or fame and those kinds of things. Somebody else wants me to do something and I can't turn them down. I can't say no to this person because after all, it is my husband or my wife or my mother and they are not of the same mind with the same will and I just can't turn them down. It is a relationship problem and it got in between following Jesus. Jesus was just warning, He wasn't telling any of us to go on some kind of a hate campaign. He was just warning us that we have to have a very sturdy frame of mind about the value of serving God and following Jesus because we are often tested in our will to follow Jesus by those who are around us. That may be the biggest test that we ever have in following Jesus. He says, "How much do you value?"

I started thinking about this after Wednesday night when we studied about the sower and seed, the various seeds that didn't produce. The sower could have made all of those seeds produce if he had loved that seed and valued that seed more he could have put more effort into taking the stone's out of the ground or tilling the ground or doing whatever was needed so that it would make use of the seed. Seed is something that doesn't look like much but some people really see value in that because they see a crop. They don't see a ten cent pack of seeds, they see a crop that is possible to use, something to sell, a benefit. We see the word of God as something very valuable because it can change a life. It can change our life from a lost life to a saved life. That is how big a change the word of God can make. That's what Jesus was saying, "If you come and follow Me, deny yourself and take up your cross." Following Jesus is not a form of worship, it is not a type of religion, it is a way of life. Following Jesus doesn't mean, "Yes, I believe in Jesus." Yes, it does entail believing in Jesus, but it means living as He lived. You know and I know following Jesus doesn't mean literally going back to Palestine and walk the same streets that Jesus walked and if He rode an ass in to Jerusalem so will I, that wouldn't do a bit of good. What it would be is a mockery because it would be an act. There is no place for actors in the Kingdom of God but there is every place for followers. Just living like Jesus did in reality, He loved everyone that He met, He sought the Kingdom of God first, never Himself. Everything that we see in Jesus is something that God wants of us and worked in us. That is what it really means to follow Jesus. Of course we can't follow Jesus and do our own will, also. That doesn't work because there are two different directions there. He wasn't asking something that couldn't be done, but it takes all of our heart to do it. It doesn't take so much strength but it does take a heart. This thing then becomes a multiplying profit.

I remember seeing a little plaque in somebody's house one time that said, "Anybody can count the seeds in an apple but only God can count the apples in a seed." You can see how that is because one seed out of an apple produces one tree which then produces maybe thousands of apples with tens of thousands of seeds which then our tens of thousands of apple trees that makes more seeds and millions of apples. It is just an exploding rate. Jesus was just trying to point out to us the value of spiritual things. There is no calculating what it is worth. I just felt like I would like to learn how to value spiritual things versus natural things. We had been taught all of our lives to value natural things, to take care of what we have, to use it wisely. We find very few that can teach us about spiritual things. Once we meet with Jesus and begin to hear His voice to our own hearts and begin to realize that there is another world out there, right here there is a spiritual world around us all the days that we live and it is a valuable one. The least that we could ever have in the Kingdom of God is more than we could ever get in the Kingdom of man.

I just mentioned one verse that typifies this in Hebrews 11:24, "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." It says, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming, or have more respect for the reproach of Christ. In other words, whatever Christ suffered was worth more than all of the treasures in Egypt. It wasn't too many years ago that the treasures of Egypt went on display here. Remember when King Tut's tomb toured the United States. I didn't get to see it, I kind of wish that I had. Everything that was in that treasure, that solid gold coffin and all of that stuff, that all could have gone to Moses. If you had gotten a chance to tour that exhibit, you would have seen all of the things that Moses was very well acquainted with and that could have been his by just one little choice. It says, "He chose rather to suffer affliction." He went out and lived in a tent in the desert for the rest of his life, another 80 years. 80 years of being a nomad, without a home, 40 years in the wilderness eating manna when he could have been the Pharaoh of Egypt, having anything he wanted, the best of everything. But Moses saw that the reproach of Christ, the worst that he could ever do at the hand of God was better than the best that he could get out of this world. Somehow Moses, and I don't know if it was something that he was taught, I'm sure that his parents tried to teach in those things but it was things that he learn from God himself. God put in him a desire and a love for the riches of the Kingdom of God. That's what he saw was that these things were more valuable by all means that anything he would ever have on this earth. It has been a help to me to just be more careful and what I value in my little day to day life.