We've all heard the term "sell out" and it's often used to describe an actor, athlete or singer who has given up their talents or principles to achieve fame and fortune. Sometimes it's a singer who was once a creative, talented songwriter who now only sings canned pop music with no vision or a once great actor who now takes any lousy script to pocket another multi-million movie contract. We've all known the sports icon who puts their face on low grade products for the high dollar endorsement deal. I don't think selling out is reserved only for celebrities.
Every day, we make choices about how to spend our time and money. We not only invest financially in causes and pursuits but we invest valuable emotional and spiritual wealth. What we give our focus to tells a lot about our priorities. We unknowingly endorse people and activities with our participation.
Jesus poses a powerful question to his disciples in Matthew 16:26. He turns to them and says, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" In other words, you might obtain what the world says is great but if you sell yourself out in the process, what's the use? In the verse before this, He tells his friends that whomever wants to save their life, must lose it. If they wanted a rich life, they had to turn over their own interests and desires for a greater cause.
What a blow. Is what I want wrong? Are my passions and desires selfish? We can be wracked with questions and struggle to find answers. In the last few years, I've been faced with a few situations where I sold myself out to the wrong people and the wrong activities. It's no fun to lose money, time, and self respect - these things aren't easily replenished.
I've learned that when I am focusing on building someone else up rather than focusing on God and His will, I pay a high price. It could be a friend, a child or a spouse. For the most part, anyone who is willing to take enormous amounts of time, money and emotional energy from you does not have your best interest in mind. Most of the time, selling out is a slow and subtle process No one comes to you outright and says, "Hey, I'm going to drain you of everything you have for my own gain and you're not going to realize it until it's too late."
What are we chasing? Good grades and academic accolades? Recognition for physical abilities or talents? Money and career advancement? And at what cost? What happens when all the resources of a family are drained for one person to get where they want to go? The rest of the family suffers. The parent running here and there is left like an empty shell. The friend sacrificing endless hours for someone who doesn't give back ends up friendless.
Colossians 3:23 offers one practical piece of advice as we take a personal inventory. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters." Human masters. How many of us are enslaved to human masters? Are we performing for the acceptance and approval of our neighbors and everyone on social media? This verse tells us, it's ok to work, play and have interests - just keep God in the forefront of our mind as we do these things. When we do that, we will be prompted when things are getting out of line, like spending too much time and money on things that don't matter. We will be convicted of our pride issues and need to be noticed.
I hope one day I will be remembered as a sell out. But not the kind of sell out who settled for a low quality or mediocre life. I want to be known for being sold out to the Lord and His promises, for taking risks and doing crazy things to advance His love and His kingdom. I don't want my kids to remember me for giving up my principles to please others.
As the saying goes, "Everything has a price." What's your soul worth these days?