At the end of the day, each of us hopes to have a gain for our endeavors. “Resources or advantage acquired or increased” is how Webster's defines gain. A gain is simply what we have left over after we have expended ourselves.
Businesses will cease to operate if there are not any gains. Each employee hired by an organization is intended to improve profitability – to bring more gains to the organization. Businesses speak of quarterly gains and losses. Gain is often referred to as the bottom line. At times it seems as though nothing else matters beyond gains.
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Identify What True Gain Is
However, there is story after story of individuals whose financial sheets show gains, yet internally they feel nothing but loss. I believe it is Steven Covey who says that too many people are climbing the ladder of success only to find that it is leaning against the wrong wall. This reveals an inability to identify true gain.
In his book, First Things First, Steven Covey speaks of the importance of having a life compass. Don’t be so concerned about your odometer – how fast you are operating. However, give due attention to your compass – the direction you are traveling. It is better to head in the right direction at 1 mph than 100 in the wrong direction.
What the Bible says about “gain”
Paul uses business and accounting terminology when he writes:
What is more, 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 (Philippians 3:8 NIV)
This is a moment when Paul was reviewing the ledger sheet of life. Originally he had a long list of gains, but eventually decided to call those losses. What he gained was rubbish. The only true gain in life is knowing Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself asks the challenging question:
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26 NIV)
Our society will attempt to dictate and define what should be in the gain category and what should be in the loss category, but our goal as Christians is to keep gaining the right things.
Some items to be “gained” and “lost”:
Money Family Peace Legacy Influence Integrity Time Faith Relationships
The reality is that, at times, a gain in one category means a loss in another. Consider the relationship between time and money. Typically the more time you give (loss of time) the more money you get (gain of money). However, we must all evaluate if the loss of time is worth the gain of money. As a result, we must broaden our descriptions of loss and gain beyond the simplistic and narrow categories of money.
As I write this post I am sitting in my daughter’s room with her sitting on my lap. She asked if daddy would work in her bedroom while she played. What I lost was time, efficiency, and a lot of concentration. What I gained, however, was perspective and a meaningful encounter with my daughter.
How to be sure you are investing in “gains” and ignoring “rubbish”:
- Slow down long enough to evaluate the truly important things in life. Using the compass illustration, ask if you are moving in the right direction.
- Establish your gains from an eternal perspective. This world and all its contents will pass away. There are some gains, however, that will last forever.
- Confidently declare rubbish the vain things the world calls gains. Do not succumb to the pressure to get confused about your true priorities.
- Passionately pursue that which leads to lasting gain.
- Frequently reconsider you position in life – am I gaining the world or gaining Christ?
How do you keep yourself pointed towards the true eternal gains of life?