Gain and loss
The contrasts of gain and loss are unlimited. Many times, the things we gain end up as loss somewhere else in our lives. For instance, gaining a new job that requires more responsibility might mean losing time with family. Winning the lottery has been known to bring loss of friendships and fear of theft, among other life changes.
Sometimes losing means gaining. Success in weight loss, for example, often becomes a gain in health and self-esteem. We don’t usually stop to consider alternatives when we gain something. Perhaps we should. Maybe we should ask, what must I give up to gain this? Will I lose out in the long run if I do such and such? Is this an either-or situation?
Choices can be difficult. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could know the end results of our decisions? Too often we pretend to know. We think: my baby is going to grow up being a doctor just like his grandpa. Or, my new house will fulfill all my dreams of happiness. The woman of my dreams will always be pretty and slim, putty in my hands, and a good cook.
Before Saul became Paul the Apostle, he may have thought his life would bring more and more gains. He seemed to have it all—respect, intelligence, schooling, important heredity. Saul followed the law to a T and defended it zealously to the point of persecuting Christ’s followers. Everything he invested his lifeblood into fell to nothing when he was confronted by Jesus. Suddenly he saw that all he had gained was worse than the manure in a barnyard.
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Paul said in Philippians 1:21. Do we also support such a belief in the way we live? Paul explains it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Spiritual gain over loss means life over death. We cannot gain spiritual life without first dying to self, but it brings immeasurable gain. It promises peace and joy, love and righteousness, freedom from the bonds of sin and life everlasting.
Lord, thank you for your incomparable, immeasurable blessings that can be ours when we choose to die to self and gain life with you. Giving up all that we are and have for your sake may not be easy. We ask for your strength and power in making such a radical change. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Mrs. Bair may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.