All three Synoptic Gospels include Jesus’ question of exchange. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25). It’s an economic question, though it requires a better economic understanding than many men have demonstrated. Good economics considers more than the immediate result and more than a single issue. Wealth and power, what it means to “gain the whole world,” do not equal life.
As obvious as this is to many disciples, it is only obvious by half. There are more economics in this transaction, and it’s not in the fine print, or a footnote, nor from a false teacher. Think about the verse immediately before Jesus’ question:
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)
There are two risks, but only one results in permanent loss. Jesus says you can lose early or lose eternally, but if you lose early the result is gain.
And add to this the following verse.
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. (Matthew 16:27)
When Jesus settles accounts, is He focused on punishment or on profit? Of course He will judge those who denied Him. But where would He find those to reward? He would find them among those who denied themselves and found life working for the Son. Those who gained will gain even more.
Deny yourself for something better, not something more miserable. Take up your cross, kill your greed, and then do all kinds of good that Jesus may say, “You did good. I told you I would see your work and share my inheritance with you as a reward” (Matthew 25:21; Colossians 3:23).