What Shall it Profit?
THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES
June 26, 1893
What Shall it Profit?
By Mrs. E. G. White
“The question is asked, ‘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?’ It is dangerous to give time, thought, and strength to the pursuit of worldly gain, even if success follows persevering effort; for in thus doing there is danger of making God and his righteousness secondary. It is better far to be in poverty, to endure disappointment, and have our earthly hopes shattered, than to have our eternal interests imperiled. Flattering inducements may be presented to us, and we may think to obtain wealth and honor, and so set our heart and soul on worldly enterprises. But as we cannot serve God and mammon, we are led to give up the service of God.
Money has become the measure of manhood in the world, and men are estimated, not by their integrity, but by the amount of wealth they possess. Thus it was in the days before the flood. "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.... And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth." "But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be."
Let us not be determined to get rich. If we see that poverty will be our portion in abiding in the simple truth, let us abide by the truth and enter into life. Jesus said that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." The devotees of the world may smile at this statement, but it is nevertheless the counsel of eternal wisdom. Jesus has left his followers a legacy of peace. He says, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." The Christian who is called into the world by his business, if he follows Christ, will bear his cross, and meet his perplexities in the Spirit of Christ. He will not make the world his God, and give brain and bone and muscle to the service of mammon. He will realize that Heaven is looking upon him, and whatever success attends him, he will give glory to God. He will realize that God knows, as man does not, that a few more years will roll by, and the treasures of earth be no more.
Our Saviour came to the world to adjust the claims between heaven and earth. He knows that man, formed in his image, has been endowed by his Creator in such a way that he may rise to the highest eminence of moral efficiency through cooperation with divine agency provided for his assistance. With what sorrow Jesus looks upon man wasting his energies in pursuit of that which profiteth nothing. In tones of sorrow in which mingle tears, Jesus asks, "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? "The arch-deceiver has inspired in man, by his temptations, by his presentation of flattering inducements, an inordinate desire to get the riches of this world, and he leads men to practice every form of sin in order that they may gain every earthly treasure. In the acquirement of this world's wealth, the precious promises of God are cast aside as worthless. Through the service of mammon the love of God has been expelled from the heart, and the love of the world has rushed in to fill the vacuum, and to firmly enthrone itself in the heart, to rule and reign in the life. The power of God alone can force it from its usurped position. Through love of the world the spiritual vision is blinded, and the pleasures and attractions of the future world are hid from sight.
It is the vision of the world to come that balances the mind, so that the things which are seen do not obtain control over the affections, which have been bought with an infinite price by the world's Redeemer. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit the things unseen and eternal are brought before the soul, and the advantages of the eternal, imperishable treasure are made to appear before the mind's eye in their attractive beauty. In this way we learn to look to the unseen and the eternal, and to esteem the reproaches of Christ greater value than the treasures of the world.
The angels are the servants of Christ, and there are ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands who are sent to minister unto them that shall be heirs of salvation. Angels that excel in strength minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation, and impart to them divine power; for they become partakers of the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust. Heavenly agencies are ever at the side of him who is wrestling for the victory, in order that while lawfully striving for the mastery, he may not be worsted in the conflict. But if the human agent places little value upon the precious things which God, through the gift of his only-begotten Son, has made possible for man to obtain, if he loses eternity out of his reckoning, and listens to Satan's false representation, and is attracted to the things of earth instead of heaven, he sustains great loss, so cultivating the powers of his mind and soul that he will not have a fitness for eternal life. In this way he not only concentrates his mind and affection upon that which cannot possibly bring him happiness in this life, but through the idolizing of the most contemptible things, he degrades himself to a low moral level. In his insane pursuit after earthly gain, he accepts Satan's method, and practices dishonest ways, and is blind to the result. Why should he not do this way when he disconnects himself from Him who is the source of all good, all righteousness and truth? Why will not Satan give him his mind and his attributes, and so mould him by his influence that he shall reflect the image of the earthly? The mind of him who follows the suggestion of Satan becomes like his leader; evil propensities gradually take him captive, and he becomes a slave of Satan. He is led on into deeper idolatry, beholding not the celestial imagery but the deceiving representation of the enemy. Satan pictures before him the advantage of worldly gain, and fills memory's hall with false representations. The mind looks upon these, and becomes debased according to the subjects presented.”