Discipleship,  Life,  Ministry

Pure Profit

In the 1970s and 1980s, a popular set of commercials were those about the brokerage EF Hutton. Generally, two people were in a crowded room talking about investing, and one would ask the other what their broker says. The response included, “Well, my broker is EF Hutton,…” and at that point everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and tried to listen in. (If you are not familiar with the commercials, here is one clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_ygqPepLjM.)

The success behind the commercials is that people wanted to get a tip on their investments. Specifically, they wanted to know what to do to be profitable.

Well, the Bible answers the profitability question from another perspective. Of course, the Bible does speak to money often (Jesus spoke more about money than heaven or hell), but the profitability of our concern is how to live our lives to redeem the time.

Many people have their own ideas on what it means to redeem the time, and thus how to do it best. But for the follower of Christ, redeeming the time is for God. Thus, we need to take our instructions from Him, and those instructions begin with Scripture.

So, the question we must answer is whether or not Scripture is profitable. Scripture says it is, but is that reliable? After all, many people claim certain “truths” about themselves that are not really true. So, can we really trust the Bible?

Well, first, if we can trust God we can trust the Bible. You have likely heard it said that someone is only as good as his/her word. Well, the Bible is God’s written Word. So, if you trust God, then you can trust the Bible. I do, so I can.

Second, thousands of years have produced millions of changed lives because of the words contained in the Bible – including mine.

So, I believe that the Bible is believable. And the prior sentence shows it is profitable. But what profit does it bring? Well, let’s look again at 2 Timothy 3.16.

Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Those are the four areas where the profit is guaranteed. Now the measure of profit is partly up to us. But we can begin from the notion that applying Scripture for those four areas – teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness – can be profitable. And that means Scripture can help us redeem the time. But only if we use it.

I have shared this before, but the word redeem means to buy back. Something is given in order to buy back something else. For instance, we redeem a coupon. In other words, we exchange a coupon (formerly, this was almost exclusively a piece of paper, but now perhaps a QR code on your phone), for a reduction in the price of a product. We have bought back a few cents or dollars for the exchange of the coupon. Thus, the coupon is profitable, but only if it is used.

Scripture (i.e. the Bible) is profitable, but only if it is used. Notice that I did not say known. It is not enough to know the Bible. The Bible becomes profitable when we apply what it says (and I may add, apply it properly).

And so that leads us to the first area of profitability – teaching. The teaching is about the Bible, but it must also be about making the truths of the Bible a part of our lives – not just in what we know, but in what we do. James wrote, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1.22). He goes on to say that hearers forget, but doers act, and it is those who act who will be blessed (v 25).

The beauty of God is that He leaves so much to us. That is His Word provides instruction, but He leaves the how up to us. The how of teaching is left to us and the how of application is left up to us as well. The reason that is good is because we are different – we have different talents, skills, aptitudes, attitudes, gifts, etc. However, because God leaves so much up to us, sometimes we do not follow through because we don’t take the time to think through the how. For instance, one of the foremost commands in Scripture is to love your neighbor. And we can take Jesus’ words further to say that we are to love our neighbor as we do ourselves.

But we all will interpret that a little differently. Again, that is good because all kinds of people need all different types of help. And if we were all given the same charge to do it one way, some would be thrilled because of the directions, but others would not engage because they had something different in mind. On the other hand, if the application is left up to the individual, the people who had a different approach in mind might engage many different ways, but the people who need direction might not do anything because specific instructions were not given.

But the key is knowing the Scripture is profitable – and one part of that profitability is for teaching – both what to know and what to do with what we know. When we combine those two ideas, we can begin to redeem the time. And that is our goal.

So, my encouragement this week is to consider Mark 12.28-31 and the passage of loving God and loving our neighbor. You likely know the verses well, but how can you apply them this week? Well, let me try to thread the needle by providing some direction and yet leaving the actual application up to you.

  1. Take a moment to pray and allow God to give you the right person and the right approach.
  2. Write down the name of one neighbor (if you want to write down more that is fine, but if you write down one you are more likely to do something).
  3. Write down some ways you might serve your neighbor this week.
  4. Ask that neighbor how you can help.
  5. Compare your list and the neighbor’s request. You might find a natural starting point, but if not, it is likely best to start with the neighbor’s request (obviously, as long as it is not against Scripture).
  6. Love your neighbor and in doing so, love God.

If you do these steps, you will likely redeem the time and show how Scripture is profitable for teaching. That will be a good day, or even better, a good week, if you can serve that neighbor (or neighbors) multiple times.

REMINDER:  If you wish to watch these posts as a vlog, I am live most every Wednesday at 7 pm on our church’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-ruMRCdzAaaTo1hiDyzwOg.

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