|Posted on May 13, 2014 at 7:15 PM||comments (1)|
NOT FOR SALE!
There is something exhilarating and exciting about a sale! It is really hard to pass up a flea market on a warm sunny day. My wife loves an auction! And, I must admit, there is excitement in the air as the auctioneer’s monotone drives the prices up and up, until finally he cries, “Sold, to the lady with the purple hat!” The first time, however, that I got up the nerve to raise my hand at an auction, I actually bought a box full of old safety razors, which they were practically giving away by the end of the auction! On another occasion when I bought a cardboard box filled with several useless items, I also discovered, to my great satisfaction, some books that I use almost every day! And at yard sales and in antique shops, my wife displays the art of bargaining with more expertise than do most people I know. Sometimes, just for fun, she has bargained with a seller just to see how low she could bring the price down, when she actually did not intend to buy!
On the other hand, it can be very sad to see a home sold at auction, for whatever reason, along with the furniture and all of the prized souvenirs accumulated during many years. Most of us have objects in our homes that we would not want to part with for any price! Too many precious memories are attached to them and they are just not for sale! Yet, we know that at some point, perhaps after we leave this earth, even these special objects will be put up for sale, and the price they bring may be small.
Over the course of human existence, nearly everything imaginable has been bought or sold. In the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John describes the downfall of “the great city Babylon,” saying that among the items that would no longer be bought or sold in her markets were “ slaves and human lives” (Revelation 18:11-13). “Slaves and human lives”! It is estimated that there were more slaves than free men in Rome in the first century A.D. But although the great human tragedy of legalized slavery was finally abolished in the western hemisphere in 1865, we are horrified to learn that a secret, illegal slave trade still flourishes in parts of Africa, and in Indochina! And perhaps even worse than slavery, in some ways, there is the despicable traffic of “human lives,” which John seems to differentiate from “slavery.” It is an ill-kept secret that in nations such as India and Thailand poverty-stricken parents often sell their very young daughters into marriage or prostitution!
The Apostle Paul describes the unsaved person as one who is “of flesh, sold into bondage to sin” (Romans 7:14). He wrote that before coming to Christ we were all “slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6), but that having come to Christ through obedient faith, we were set free from that “slavery” and became “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). As a minister of the gospel, Paul was fighting hard for the souls of the very people who were reading his epistle. Some of these people had been set free from sin by Christ, but seemed to have forgotten the One whom they were supposed to be serving. Some of them were slipping back into the “bondage” of sin, selling themselves yet again, as it were, to another master!
“For Sale!” Even today, many of those for whom Christ died seem to have sold themselves again to Satan, and for bargain prices! In ancient times, the oldest son received his father’s special blessing and, at the father’s death, the major part of the inheritance. But Isaac’s oldest son Esau cared nothing for such things. He cared only for what the present moment could bring him. So when his brother Jacob offered him a bowl of red stew in exchange for his right of inheritance, he readily agreed! (Genesis 25:31-34). The author of Hebrews writes that “Esau sold his birthright for a single meal” (Hebrews 12:16). What a bargain! What a loss! Yet, people are making such deals every single day. They are in effect bartering their valuable souls for pennies, for a momentary passing pleasure!
So I ask the all-important question: How much is my soul worth to me? What price would I place on my soul? What would be the lowest price that I would accept for my eternal soul? Jesus taught His disciples that if anyone wished to come after Him, he would have to deny himself and take up his cross and follow Him. “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26). Jesus is saying that each of us must make the choice – Will I follow Jesus? Or will I follow my own pleasures? To follow Jesus requires that I give up many things that I might want to keep! To follow Jesus requires that I bear the burdens placed upon me (“my cross”), that I agree to suffer if necessary, and that I follow Him to the very end! So, how much am I willing to give in exchange for the life that He offers me? What is my soul worth to me?
Paul describes his own commitment when he was converted. He wrote that “Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). He was willing to pay the asking price! Christ asks for our ALL. He will not barter with us. There is no lowest price that He will accept!
As you and I follow Jesus, we will have many close encounters with Satan, our archenemy. Satan has many schemes or tricks by which he seeks to steal what is valuable to us (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11). He will attempt to bribe us with a moment of pleasure and will creep up during our unguarded moments. If possible, he will rob us of our chastity; he will exchange our innocence for a few casual looks at pornographic images; he will erode our faith through false science and ingenuous, but fallacious arguments; and by promising us earthly wealth and power, he will try to turn our eyes away from Jesus (Hebrews 12:2-3) and distract us from our glorious hope of heaven.
We need to be firm, as was Jesus when Satan tempted Him (Matthew 4:1-11), and let him know without a doubt that there are some things that are NOT FOR SALE!
Donald R. Taylor