Gain That Is Loss
Lesson 17

As Jesus was teaching His disciples regarding their future as His representatives, He spoke to them of the weighty responsibilities they were to bear as they published the truths that would result in their being called before the courts of magistrates and kings. Suddenly, the discourse was interrupted. A man listening to Christ’s solemn instructions broke in to make a personal appeal of Christ for His help in settling a domestic dispute. The nature of this man’s request came as a discordant note of selfishness against the solemn background of solemn instruction Christ had been giving.

1. What did the man ask Christ to do for him?

Luke 12:13
Luke 12:13

Note: This man believed his brother to have defrauded him of his portion of his inheritance. Though his own appeals had failed to gain him the desired goal, he is certain that if Christ would interpose on his behalf, his brother would find the force of Christ’s words irresistible.

2. What was Christ’s response?

Luke 12:14
Luke 12:14

Note: The advancement of his own temporal affairs and the gaining of what he believed to be his rightful inheritance were the all absorbing interest of this man and like Simon, the sorcerer (See Acts 8), he valued the gift of God as a means of worldly gain.

3. In answering this man’s concern, against what did Christ warn?

Luke 12:15
Luke 12:15

Note: Christ was nearing the close of His ministry and but a little time remained for Him to accomplish the work He had come to do. Yet, human greed would have turned Him from His work to settle a dispute over a piece of land.

In responding, Jesus affirmed that it was not a part of His mission to settle controversies of this nature. He had come for the purpose of preaching the gospel, and thus to arouse men’s awareness of eternal realities.

4. Striking at the root of the affair that had troubled His questioner, what did Christ warn that life does not consist of?

Luke 12:15
Luke 12:15

To illustrate the folly of giving temporal and earthly concerns a preeminent place in our thinking, to the exclusion of eternal realities, Christ then told a parable as given in Luke 12:16–21.

5. What gains for us the praise of men?

Psalm 49:18
Psalm 49:18

Note: Earthly wisdom dictates that it is the material things which we obtain that determine our success, but Jesus denied that these things have any real value as a measure of our success or failure in this life.

6. How does God view the wisdom of this world?

1 Corinthians 3:19
1 Corinthians 3:19

7. When in all of his striving a person fails to keep in view heavenly realities, to what is he likened?

Psalm 49:20
Psalm 49:20

Earthly Riches Only an Illusion

It was a calm, moonless evening in April. Though the air was chill, the passengers of the White Star Line’s newest and grandest ship—the unsinkable Titanic—were enjoying a lovely dinner in a warm and lively atmosphere. About 9:30 the ship came in contact with Cape Race, Newfoundland, and the wireless room became a hum of activity as the two radio operators became busy sending passengers’ greetings to friends, relatives, and business contacts. It was during this time that an urgent message was received reporting that a large ice field lay just ahead. The perceived importance of responding to the passengers’ interest in communicating their greetings to New York, however, occupied the full attention of the men in the radio room, and the ice warnings were ignored.

Suddenly, at 11:37, there was a slight jolt, unfelt by most aboard. Beneath the surface, however, thousands of gallons of water were pouring through a fatal opening made by an iceberg in the hull. Of the 1527 passengers, no more than 705 were to survive. Among the lost was John Jacob Astor, the richest man on the Titanic and one of the richest in America at that time. His body was later found in a lifejacket, horribly mangled, presumably when one of the funnels fell from the badly listing ship just before it began its final plunge.

That night, a summons had been given from which no amount of wealth could purchase a reprieve. In one moment, the treasures of a lifetime were worthless to answer the soul’s great need. The fiat went forth, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” For hundreds of souls, the apparent security of the present was exposed to be a great illusion as they were suddenly faced with the reality of eternity.

8. In all of our striving, what is to be our first concern?

Matthew 6:33
Matthew 6:33

9. If seeking after heavenly things is our first interest, what is Christ’s promise regarding temporal things such as food and clothing?

Matthew 6:31, 33
Matthew 6:31, 33

10. While the rich man of the parable was making plans for the future, what message came to him?

Luke 12:20
Luke 12:20

Note: “Here is a demand that money cannot supply. The wealth he has treasured can purchase no reprieve. In a moment that which he has toiled through his whole life to secure becomes worthless to him.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 258

11. What did Jesus say of those whose primary goal is enriching themselves?

Luke 12:21
Luke 12:21

12. How did Jesus say we could gain treasure in heaven?

Matthew 19:21
Matthew 19:21

13. When we share our means to help those less fortunate than ourselves, to whom does Christ consider the gift given?

Matthew 25:34–40
Matthew 25:34–40

Note: Christ’s was a life given in sacrifice for others and by the parable of the rich man, He showed the folly of those who make the world their all.

14. What does the apostle tell us the love of money is?

1 Timothy 6:10
1 Timothy 6:10

15. Between what two great attractions must all eventually decide?

Matthew 6:24
Matthew 6:24

Note: The word “mammon,” used in some versions of the Bible, is a reference to money, or riches. As with the rich young ruler who came to Christ desiring to know if anything stood between him and eternal life (Matthew 19:16–22), the test will come to all. The nature of that decision reveals our priorities and what has first place in our affections, and thus determines our eternal destiny.

16. What will eventually happen to the things of this world?

2 Peter 3:10
2 Peter 3:10

17. With this in mind, where should the Christian’s first interest be directed?

2 Corinthians 4:18
2 Corinthians 4:18

The day will come when the treasures that men have accumulated will be of no value. “In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for the fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” Isaiah 2:20–21. (This applies to more than graven images, for whatever we cherish that tends to lessen our love for God or to interfere with the service due Him, of that we have made a god.)

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Mark 8:36

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