What Matters Most?

"What profit is there to gain the whole world but forfeit your life?" (Matt 16:25).

In a scene from Robert Bolt's play about Thomas More, "A Man for All Seasons," Thomas, imprisoned by the king for treason, tries to explain to his daughter why he cannot sign a pledge of loyalty to save his life. Thomas cups his hands tight as one might to hold water, then says that if he moved even one finger the water would drain out. So his conscience holds his integrity, and if he compromises it even in secret to save his life, he will lose his very self. 

What do we have that is more important than our integrity, our very self? What kind of life would we have if we betrayed our basic principles for gain? To live with ourselves, we would have to quiet our conscience every day by denying that it made any difference that we sold out. 

Jesus called his disciples to follow him with courage and steadfastness. They were to be prepared to lose everything to remain faithful. He promised them that if they lost their lives for his sake, they would keep their lives. The self is a sacred trust, the one treasure we cannot afford to squander or betray.  What price can equal the value of our very self, and what gain could fill the emptiness we would feel if we lost our self in exchange for the whole world? 

We know that life is filled with compromises and failures, and that we can lose our way as well as consciences from time to time. The call of Jesus is never withdrawn, and like many of the first disciples who first failed before they were restored by his forgiveness, we must go forward with faith and try again.  Without mercy, everyone would be lost. God wants us to be saved, and grace will help us no matter how we stumble and fall, as long as we rise again and continue our discipleship.