For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
– Jesus, Mark 8:36
As a teen, I found myself on the outside looking in when it came to flashy clothing, name brand sneakers, and car modifications. I sincerely didn’t care about keeping up with ‘the latest’ as much as many of my friends. Apart from a Starter-brand jacket I wanted in the 7th grade, I can’t think of a flashy item of clothing that captured my imagination. While my friends were sneakerheads who preferred color and design, I preferred white Reebok Classics or plain Adidas. Looking back, it was probably a good thing I didn’t care for flashy because I couldn’t afford that stuff anyway.
My experience with vehicles was the same. When I got my license, I drove my mother’s old blue station wagon until a lady cut in front of me and we had a T-bone collision in downtown Baltimore.
I had the Metro until I donated it to one of the students in my youth ministry and I upgraded to a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I kept the Jeep a number of years until I ran it into the ground and was forced to make a decision about buying another car.
Life was going well for me at this point and I was considering getting into the house flipping business.
With all the wisdom of a doornail, I found an ‘affordable’ Mercedes Benz SUV and made the purchase. Here I was, a poor kid from East Baltimore and I bought myself a new-to-me black Mercedes SUV complete with a grill logo that looked like it was jacked from Flava Flav’s necklace!
I loved it. Honestly, I did get a good deal on it but it was one of those purchases you make simply because the romanticized images of seeing yourself in the car look cooler than actually driving the car. My wife didn’t care for the purchase but she figured I was going through a quarter-life crisis. She was probably right.
Ultimately though, a year or so after I bought the car I learned how much maintenance costs on a Mercedes. Sure enough, a tune-up here, tires there, shocks, blah, blah, blah. The end to my short-lived Mercedes experiment came when I started to hear a knocking noise in the engine. You should know that I’m the last guy you want messing with your car.
Anyway, I hear this knocking noise one too many days and I found myself at a coffee shop talking to a guy who owns a used car lot. I told him: “Man, I’m done with this car. You can have it. Give me a number.” He tells me to take it to Car Max and bring him the evaluation letter they give which shows their cash offer for the car. He promises to give me a few hundred bucks more than whatever is on that sheet. Come to find out, Car Max doesn’t give you top dollar.
I came back to my friend with this lowball offer from Car Max. I had paid almost four times that amount, but I’m so worried about dumping more money into this bucket of bolts that I shake his hand and give him the keys.
A few months later, I bump into that car dealer at the coffee shop again. He’s super friendly and extra-interested in engaging me with conversation. I think he even offered to buy my coffee. As we’re talking I interject and asked: “How’d you make out on my Mercedes SUV?” He puts his head down and says “Tally, I hate to even tell you.” I said: “Well, I know you had some work to do on it… that knocking issue was probably expensive.” He tilted his head down again and then looked me in the eye with an I’m-compassionate-but-I’m-still-a-businessman look and said: “The part cost me $100. I sold it within a week for four times what I paid you for it.”
I was crushed. I mumbled something Christian about being happy for him and quickly found a reason to slide out of that coffee shop and get into my wife’s 15-year old Nissan Maxima.
It wasn’t the car salesman’s fault. He hadn’t inspected the vehicle. He didn’t know what was wrong with the engine. He was just doing his job. I let fear cloud my judgment and I didn’t recognize my vehicle’s worth.
Imagine a seesaw. On one side of that seesaw, you have the weight and value of “the entire world”. On the other side, you have your ‘little bitty soul’.
Most of us would think: “Surely, the value of everything I run after, the value of all land, all mansions, all boats, all the beauty of every resort island is of far greater worth than little ol’ me.”
But you’d be wrong.
Because you have inherent worth, meaning, and value, so much else in life that you’re pursuing is truly a ‘lesser’ option. So much of what you want to gain is actually a loss. So many of the ways you try to improve upon your identity are actually beneath you. So much of what you trade your soul for will actually cause you to take a loss. You are worth so much more than you can imagine.
My prayer for you today is that you’ll lean in and learn to embrace your God-given value. Don’t lower your value to find worth from the world.
Spend your life on what matters most, your soul goals.