In our catechism recitation each morning, we’ve memorized:
What did God give Adam and Eve besides bodies? He gave them souls that could never die.
In Genesis, we read that on the sixth day, “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The Bible tells us that at death, “then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Jesus warned, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
It is a sobering thing to think about losing my soul. I remember a story my mom used to tell us, about a miserly old man who cared more about money than anything else, including God. I don’t remember too many details of the story, except that he fell asleep in church one day and a fly flew in his open mouth. I’ve always been a little terrified of falling asleep in church since! LOL! 🙂
Seriously, I’d like to wrap up our discussion of a woman’s priorities by looking at God’s view of our soul in Mark 8:34-37.
“Then [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?'”
Jesus specifically says here that as we choose our life’s priorities, we can’t choose from two sides of the fence. We can’t try to live from what our hearts are telling us and what the gospel is telling us. We’ll either save our 70-year lives and lose our eternal souls, or we’ll give up our temporary lives and gain our eternal souls.
Jesus asks, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Last week we looked at what the world offers, and we discovered that it’s only good for gaining wealth, fame, pride, and lust. Seriously, though, these things can look very promising.
Jesus bluntly says I have to “lose my life” for his sake and for the gospel. For many believers through the centuries, they have given up not just wealth but have starved to death for Jesus. Some have given up not just fame and pride, but their literal lives were given up on flaming stakes and in the throes of persecution.
What are some things I will have to give up in my own life if I am to make God my top priority? Here are some I scratched down in my journal:
1. My Thoughts
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9).”
My husband is just finishing a series of sermons on Ephesians 6, and he has been emphasizing that our battle with Satan takes place primarily in our minds, in a cosmic battle between God’s truth and the world’s lies. It is not easy to win this battle. In fact, it is only as we put on the Lord Jesus Christ as each piece of armor that we can win. Jesus is my truth. Jesus is my righteousness. Jesus is my peace. Jesus is the foundation of my faith, the salvation for my soul, and the very Word of God.
If I don’t have Jesus, I won’t have truth. I’ll live a life of sin and fear. I’ll have no basis in the eternal Word of God, and I’ll lose my soul.
But if you’ll read through Isaiah 55 (highly recommended), you’ll discover that living a religiously good life is not the answer. God’s thoughts are not religion’s thoughts. Attending church, contributing to social causes, and acting in a moral way are all good, but God is looking for hearts that “give ear” to Him and “hear” Him. “Giving ear” to God means leaning over toward Him when He speaks, paying close attention, then getting up and doing what He has said.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).
I know that I don’t always have the power to do this perfectly, and if it were all up to me, I’d be in big trouble. I’m so thankful that “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ” also means that His Spirit comes to live within me, giving me the power to walk in obedience to Him (Eph. 2:8-10, Romans 6, Ezekiel 36:25-27).
2. My Actions
Just as my thoughts change, once given to Jesus, so also do my actions. That makes sense, since the Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). God’s law clearly defines the actions that characterize a believer in the one, true God. However, God’s law is also in such direct opposition to how the world acts that obedience to it will make me look very “peculiar.”
“Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14, KJV).
God’s use of the word peculiar means we’ll become a closely guarded treasure to Him, but through the centuries, a distortion of this word has changed its popular meaning from “special” to “odd.” Am I content to be God’s treasure yet despised in the eyes of my friends and neighbors? It’s not easy to change my actions because they’re so visible and obvious. “People” won’t understand. I’ll probably be scorned, mocked, talked about behind my back, lied about, misunderstood, and maybe even persecuted. But I’ll be blessed.
3. My Goals
When I give my life to Jesus, every thought and action, I turn around from my previous goals and ambitions and everything becomes new. In fact, turning around is what “repentance” means. It is a change of mind that results in a change of direction. Instead of money being my god, I walk by trust in the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Instead of lusting for everything on which I set my eyes, I live in contentment for God’s good gifts to me. Instead of seeking after the praise and acclaim of men, I live for a day in God’s kingdom when I shall stand before Him to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
4. My Time
As a woman, I’ve discovered that as God changes my thoughts, then my actions, then my goals, I begin to spend my time in radically different ways from other women.
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:3-5).
For instance, being a helper and companion to my husband in his life’s work becomes a higher priority than seeking my own career. Loving and training my children becomes a higher priority than spending time with my buddies. I learn self-control in my daily disciplines, and purity reigns in my entertainment choices. I’m “busy at home,” so I don’t have as much time to be busy in community events. I make the choice to be kind, which sometimes means I’m inconvenienced, have to spend time with people or show hospitality, or otherwise lose some of my “personal” time. I choose to do things my husband’s way rather than my own, which means that some tasks are slower or different than they would be if I were single and free.
Yes, the woman who makes Jesus her top priority will think differently, act differently, talk differently, look differently, and spend her time differently. She’s got her eye on eternity, realizing her eternal reward. She loves God with all her soul, not just a piece of it reserved for an hour a week at church.
Next week we’ll continue with selected Bible verses from chapter 2 of Juggling Life’s Responsibilities, as we see why God created the woman and what roles He designed her to play. As we enter this sometimes controversial topic, I urge you to commit today to give all your soul to Jesus and to realize the eternal value of following Him with all your heart.
Woodrow Kroll from Back to the Bible ministry in Nebraska is famous for saying, “Have a good and godly day, for of what lasting value is a good day if it’s not also a godly day?”
I want to say, “Have a good and godly life, for of what lasting value is a good life if it’s not also a godly life?”