At one time a series of television commercials appeared for an ice cream novelty called a Klondike Bar. In the commercials a person was offered a Klondike Bar if he or she would do something outrageous in front of the camera. At the end of each ad the question was asked, “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” The impression, of course, was that a Klondike Bar was so delicious that people would do anything to have one.
This kind of question gets asked in a variety of contexts in our lives, so we’re accustomed to hearing it and responding to it. A young man asks himself what he is willing to do in order to win the heart of some sweet young lady. An athlete asks himself what he is willing to do in order to make the varsity team or to make it to the professional level in his sport. An employee asks himself what he is willing to give to his job in order to receive a raise or a promotion from his employer and a young man asks himself what he is willing to give in order to serve his country in its armed forces. We may not even think about it in such direct terms, but we all answer this kind of question at many times in our lives.
What one is willing to give in order to reach some goal is an important spiritual question also. The Lord Himself asked it, albeit in somewhat different terms, in Mt. 16:26. He was talking about the cost of discipleship, and He said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” When the Lord spoke these words, He was emphasizing two important truths. The first is that it costs something to be His disciple. In vs. 24 & 25 He spoke of self-denial, cross bearing, and losing one’s life in order to save it. Those who would become His disciples would have to pay something in their physical lives in order to do so.
The second truth that the Lord emphasized here is that everyone will exchange his or her soul for something. There is no middle ground on this subject. Two great forces are at war for the souls of mankind. The Lord is the good side and Satan is the evil side. All of us will give in to one side or the other as we make our life decisions, and the Lord wanted us to understand that it matters what choice we make.
The manner in which the Lord spoke in v. 26 reveals His view on the subject. The first question clearly suggests that there is no profit for a man to exchange his soul for even all the world’s wealth. This is the point the Lord wanted His audience to understand. The second question brings the point even closer to home. What will a man give in exchange for his soul? This question is the crux of the matter. Does one value his soul enough to give up rebellion against God’s will and to humbly walk in obedience to Him? Or does he put so little value on his soul that he is willing to give it to Satan in order to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin? The scriptures teach us that Moses chose to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, rather than to indulge himself in the sins of Egyptian life (Heb. 11:25). This should tell us something about the value of our souls.
God thought our souls so valuable that He sent His only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. He gave up the best He had in order to win our souls. Nothing we may sacrifice in life in order to be a disciple can compare to what He gave for us. With that truth in mind, we need to seriously ask ourselves what we will give in order to be saved. Jesus told the people to seek the food that endures to eternal life (Jn. 6:26, 27). It costs something to do so, but what will you give in exchange for your soul?