Monday, August 6, 2012

Profitability


Last week I posted on the Word of God.  In the Scripture I used for that post, the Word was described as "profitable" for several things.  Then I got to thinking on what other things are profitable to us.  First let's begin with last week's text.
All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV
The Word of God is profitable.  We saw that last week in that the Word of God has great benefit for our lives.  It is our guide book, it is God's word to us, it is a measure for our lives, it teaches us righteousness, and it equips us for service to God.  That is not a complete list.  The Word is inspiring, convicting, challenging, and comforting.  The Word of God, however, is not the only thing in the Bible that is called profitable to us.  Let us look at a few more examples. 
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.  1 Timothy 4:8 NKJV
Health is a concern for many of us.  I certainly know that I need to exercise more.  I also know that if I exercise, my health can improve dramatically.  In fact, my health issues are largely related to my lack of adequate exercise.  Those that do exercise know that it gives them more energy, better health, increased strength and stamina, and makes them more useful to the world.  There is a lot to be gained from exercise.  The Bible, on the other hand, says that the profit gained from exercise is small compared tot the profit gained from godliness.  Think about that, all the hours and hours that people spend training and exercising for the Olympics earns a small gain as compared to godliness.  Godliness is profitable for all things.  This profit is not only realized in our eternal lives, but even in this life.  Again, Paul is not speaking of financial gain, but spiritual gain.  Godliness leads to a happier, more content life.  Godliness leads to success in ministry and the excitement of being part of God's work.  Godliness is profitable for your life.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.  Titus 3:8 NKJV
Good works are also profitable.  Works may have no bearing on our salvation, but they do have value after we are saved.  They are profitable.  They cause gain in our lives.  Once again, I am not talking about material gain, but I am talking about spiritual gain.  Good works make us part of God's work.  Good works are a blessing to other people.  Good works glorify God and lead people to Him.  Good works are of tremendous value for the Christian.  This is an undeniable truth. 

I hope you are seeing a trend.  The things that God says are profitable for us are things that are profitable to the Kingdom.  The Word is profitable in that it equips us with the knowledge of right doctrine (the gospel) and the instruction for righteous living and equipping us for the work of God.  The effect of the Word on our lives has profit for the Kingdom of God.  Godliness, that is following the example of Jesus Christ, is profitable for the kingdom in that when Jesus is expressed through our lives, God is glorified and people are drawn to Him.  The same can be said for good works.  Good works are profitable for the kingdom in that God is glorified though our works and people are drawn to Him.  What things are profitable for our lives are profitable because they make us profitable to God.  Jesus spoke on this same thing.
So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.'  His lord said to him, 'Well [done], good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' He also who had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well [done], good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'  Matthew 25:20-23 NKJV
God rewards those who are profitable to the kingdom.  I know that there are some who teach that no matter what kind of life you lead, as long as you are in Christ, you are under the blessing of God.  Unfortunately, this is a complete denial of Scripture to the contrary.  God does not reward bad behavior because that only serves to encourage bad behavior.  God did not send His son to die so that we can live sinful lives.  The Holy Spirit does not live in our hearts to cheer for our sinful acts.  Our salvation is not only freedom from judgement, but it is also freedom from sin's hold on our lives.  We were incapable of any kind of righteous living before Jesus, but now we are free to live as God has called us to live.  The Holy Spirit is in our hearts to lead us and guide us in righteous living.  He is also in our hearts to encourage our good works and convict us those times we are living contrary to God's will for our lives.  The freedom we have in Christ is the freedom to be profitable to the kingdom. 

There are many ways to be profitable in this world.  Whether is be money, material goods, power, accolades, and glory, there are many things we can gain in the world.  None of these bear any value to the Kingdom and God and any use they have are only useful for the short time you have in this world.  If those are the focus in your life, your life will be empty and you will have nothing waiting for you in heaven, if you make it there at all.  Earthly profit means nothing to the Kingdom.  Even our own health is only a small profit compared to what we can gain through the things of God.  If you want true profit in this life, you need to pursue that which is profitable to the Kingdom of God.  If you want to really experience spiritual blessing, then you have to sow to the spirit and not to the corrupt things of this world or your flesh.  True profit does not come from running a successful business or having a successful career.  True profit is derived from studying the Word of God, leading a godly life, and doing good works to glorify God.  Do those things and you will be laying up treasures for yourself in heaven. 
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV

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