In God's economy there is no gain without what is considered loss in other economies.
A man who came to Jesus asking what good deed he needed to do to gain eternal life.
“Jesus told him, 'If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Matthew 19:21-22, NLT)
Human nature is wired to avoid loss with a drive that is stronger than the desire for gain. This has been studied and proven in numerous scientific experiments.
For example, one study presented participants with this problem:
You are offered a gamble on the toss of a coin. If the coin shows tails, you lose $100. If the coin shows heads, you win $150. Is this gamble attractive? Would you accept it?
The odds of winning and losing are equal. The reward for winning is greater than the penalty for losing. But most participants did not consider the gamble attractive, or accept it, because of the risk of losing $100.
There was an increase of participants willing to take this gamble if the opportunity for gain was thought to be worth at least twice as much as the value of what might be lost. Lose $100 for tails, gain $200 for heads.
A win in either case leaves the gambler ahead in the game. The cost and risk of loss are the same.
After Jesus’ reply, "Then Peter said to him, 'We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?'” (Matthew 19:27, NLT)
Jesus’ promised gains of a hundred times what was lost, and eternal life.
So, why did the rich young man’s riches present such a barrier to trading them in for a hundred-times greater treasure in heaven?
Some say it was covetousness.
That may be it.
We usually think of coveting in the context of desiring things that aren’t ours. But we can also covet the things we have already, putting a tight grip on the blessings God has bestowed on us. That’s when holding on to God’s blessings becomes more important than blessing God’s people.
This is the economy of God’s kingdom: It’s citizens strive to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
We are blessed to be a blessing.
Some people are not content with what they have received. They lust for more. The prospect of giving up anything they already have is a loss, even in the light of Jesus’ promise of overflowing treasure in heaven.
These people add to the cost-benefit analysis of every exchange an equation for “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM).
Jesus has called Christians to accept temporary loss as the cost of discipleship, with an eye on the long-term gain rather than the short-term loss.
Sadly, some often find themselves choosing to keep a tight grip on their blessings of time, talent and treasure. They defend their interests and disregard the interests of others.
As they calculate WIIFM, some conclude there’s no time to volunteer, no room to accommodate other’s schedules, no interest in sharing space with other programs, no reason to share one’s skills to help someone else, no money to give for that ministry or person in need.
Jesus doesn’t ask us to calculate WIIFM. People who do put themselves on a path away from Him.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, NLT)