“GAINS AND LOSSES”                                               By Pastor YAU

2 Kings 5:20-27                                                              August 6, 2006

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Looting the camp: A true story of the US Civil War goes like this: an army unit was rushing to a battle field for a major battle but they arrived too late. On the way to the battle field, the troop had stopped to loot a camp abandoned by their enemy. By taking what they thought they need, they wasted time they did not have and cause defeat of the battle and loss of many lives of their comrades.

2)   History often repeats: The story seems to describe the tragic failure of Gehazi, a servant of Prophet Elisha. Naaman, a Syrian military commander was powerful, rich and famous but he had a terrible and disgraceful disease: leprosy. He came to seek help from Elisha and was cured of the disease. He offered Elisha lavish gifts which Elisha refused to accept. (5:5, 16) Gehazi seized the opportunity and sought some of the gifts for himself from Naaman. He ended up received from Naaman more than silver and clothing: he also received leprosy for himself and his descendents. (5:27)

 

WHY ARE SOME GAINS LOSSES?

1)     Because of wrong definition: Gains or losses are concepts people hold in their mind. It has to do with their value system and choices. A thing may be a gain to someone but a loss to another. That same thing may be a gain at one time but a loss at another time to the same person. The general guideline of determining whether something is a gain or a loss is to determine its long term benefits to the person who makes the judgment. People who are confused on the definition often make wrong choices.

2)     Because of wrong perspective: A perspective is a point from where you stand to see things. Different people have different perspectives and therefore see things differently. People standing on different grounds looking at the same thing may have different versions of understanding and interpretation. Therefore your perspective is important in determining if something is a gain or a loss. If you stand at a wrong place you will make wrong decisions in determining gains and losses.

3)     Because of lack of wisdom: Wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom is the gift of God to help us see things through their appearance into their true nature and long term outcome. Many people make major decisions by superficial or temporal value or instant gratification at the expense of long term benefits. We all know the limitation of human wisdom. We are products of environment and we can only see things within the environment. Decisions made without true wisdom may turn out to be losses even though you may believe they are gains to begin with.

4)     Because we see only today: Just as it is hard, if not impossible, for animals to see values of man, our lower nature of being human can only see things on the level we can understand. True gains or losses are beyond our ability to see much less to understand. Many people made terrible choices and suffered enormous loss because they can’t see the true nature of things if they are gains or losses in the long run, tomorrow and the day after. The problem of short sighted in determining gains and losses has never changed.

 

GAINS AND LOSSES IN THE BIBLE:

1)    The great fall: (Genesis 3:4-7) When Eve picked the forbidden fruit, she believed that it was an act to gain power and wisdom of God and be able to see good from evil. She also believed that the fruit was so good for her eyes and stomach. It was a definite gain for her and her husband. But when her eyes were opened the result was entirely a different story. She didn’t get any of the gains she believed she would have but saw her own nakedness and shame and brought on her, her husband and the rest of the human race in a total loss and condemnation.

2)    The great tragedy: (Genesis 16:1-3) To eliminate the shame of being barren or childless, Sarai, late Sarah, schemed to build her status in the family and reputation among people by suggesting her husband to take a concubine Hagar. She believed that by having a child through Hagar, everything will be a great gain for her, her husband and everyone else. In fact, she had begun a never ending struggle and tragedy for her son, Isaac and the people of Israel for the past 1,000s of years.

3)    The great loss: (1 Samuel 15:17-23) By the grace of God, King Saul won a huge victory over his enemy the Amalekites. But he did not obey the commands of God to destroy everything belonged to his enemy by keeping the king and many of the fat animals. This kind of practice was common as signs of victory in his time. To have the king of your enemy as a prisoner and many of the spoils captured in the battle field was a great gain for King Saul. But his gains turned into losses, the loss of his position as king.

4)    The greatest loss of all: (Matthew 16:26) In stressing the marks of a true follower and the costs he needs to pay, Jesus pointed out the ultimate loss one may suffer if he makes a wrong choice: the loss of his soul. Most people, if not all, want to have many of what the world has to offer: riches, fame, power and many other worldly attractions. But if a man spends all his energy, time, mind and heart in the pursuit of the world and even if he may gain the whole world, I doubt it, but ends up losing his soul, his eternal salvation, what is the meaning of that gain? “What can he give in exchange of his soul?” Jesus asked. His worldly gain is his greatest loss.

 

SEEK THE REAL GAINS:

1)    Gains in knowing Christ: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8) A personal relationship with Christ through faith is a great gain not just for eternal life after this world but also daily personal walk and guidance in this life. Apostle Paul and millions of faithful Christians have found that greatest gain to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Paul described the inseparable relationship between Christ and His love with those who put their trust in Him. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, neither anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

2)    Gains in godly wisdom: In the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon portrayed wisdom as “instruction of God.” He used various ways to describe the benefits or “gains” of doing so. He called those who seek godly wisdom as “wise man” and those who reject wisdom as “fools.” Godly wisdom is always the best choice men may have in making right and beneficial decisions of their life. We have seen or suffered consequences of foolish decisions made on human wisdom which is far from adequate or wise. Following godly principles from the Bible is always the best gain anyone could get. Fear or respect God is always the key to good life. Jesus portrayed those who follow his instruction as wise men who built their houses, or lives, on the solid ground of rocks and those who reject his instruction built their houses, or lives, on ground of sand.

3)    Gains in self giving: While the world keeps pushing us go and get more, the Bible told us to go and give all you can and you will receive abundance. Jesus said, “Unless a kernel of grain falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Then He continued to explain the gains of self giving, “The man who loves his life will lose it, but the man who lose his life in this world will keep (gain) it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25) Principles from God often times contradict with those from the world. If we give in the name and course of God, we shall be given much more than we can imagine. “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38) It is because of the self giving of Jesus, millions of souls gain access to heaven.

4)    Gains in being faithful: Remain faithful to the end is the key of being disciples of the Lord. Paul had kept himself faithful to the call of the Lord regardless of all the hardships and suffering. He faced. He testified to Timothy that he “had fought the good fight, had finished the race and had kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Many Christians are reluctant to be faithful to the fight, to finish the race and to keep the faith because they were afraid of the loss of personal interests, freedom to pursue their personal goals and to live their life within the boundary of Christian faith. They have become ineffective, of little use in the building of God’s Kingdom. Paul testified that his being faithful is a big gain because the Lord has prepared him a crown of glory in the end day, not just for him but for all those who keep on being faithful to the Lord. (4:8)

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Be a wise man: When you are making choices or decisions, be wise to make the right ones that will bring you gains instead of losses. One way to do it is think of “what would Jesus do” in such a situation? Think of the consequences 12 months from now. You will certainly regret decisions made for immediate gratification or under impulsive emotion. Define gain or loss the bible way and allow the Holy Spirit to work in your heart and be obedient to Him.

2)    Be a good learner: Learn from examples in the Bible and people around you to see the consequence of their failures. Remember that you are here for a purpose God has given you. Do things that you will be proud of later in your life.

3)   Be humble: Acknowledge your insufficiency and your need of God in making sound decisions, especially the major ones. Be humble before Him and seek His leadership in your life. Believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior and He will lead you on a life of gains not losses.