In the business world, it goes without saying, profits are important. Leadership guru, Max De Pree said, “Profit, like breathing, is indispensable.” To speak of profit is to speak of gain. It’s to speak about the benefits that a person or company receives for work. The nature of business makes profit essential. With profit as a goal, businessmen seek to use profit to expand their businesses, which leads to more profit. Profit begets growth, and growth begets profit, and profit begets . . . well, you get the idea.
If the nature of business makes profit indispensable, what about our faith? If gain is vital to organizations built by men and women, then what about an organization built by God? Jesus gives us a clue in Matthew 16:26–27:
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
This verse reveals that Jesus is interested in the profits. And, he’s interested in teaching us how profits are gained. Jesus is interested in profits because he aims to “repay” us based on what we have done. He wants to give us a profit for our work. He does this by teaching us what we are working for. If working to gain the world means we forfeit our souls, then what are we working to gain? Here’s where the nature of business and the nature of our faith part ways. Jesus teaches us how to make a profit in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” There is no antithesis between profit and loss to the Christian, only synthesis.
Consider how the New Testament calls us to measure our profit by loss.
By Seeking the Advantage of the Many
As Paul ends his discussion on food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 10, he sums up his argument with the words, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Paul is challenging the Corinthians to please God and not themselves.