Was it worth while?
Many years ago, a number of hard–headed business men acting for a big oil corporation were discussing the appointment of a new manager in China. The man for the post would have to pass a stringent test. He would have to be young, well trained and a born leader. Furthermore, he would have to possess a thorough knowledge of the Chinese language. However, such persons were few and far between. Their quest seemed hopeless until one of the business men rose and said that a name had just occurred to him, an acquaintance of his who would make an ideal candidate for the job. The man in question was, he said, only twenty–eight years old. He was well educated and an expert in Chinese. He was also clearly a born leader, for he already possessed great influence over the natives in his district. Moreover, he was living in the very part where the company wished to begin operations. This announcement interested everybody and questions came thick and fast. Presently someone asked how much salary he was getting already, and the reply was, ‘Well, I believe he is getting about six hundred dollars a year’. The meeting was astounded and the chairman declared, ‘There must be something wrong’. ‘That may be’ said the friend who had mentioned his name, ‘But the wrong is not with him. He works in connection with a Mission’. The question was thoroughly thrashed out and as a result the man who had put forward the name of the missionary was commissioned to cross the ocean, travel into China, and offer him the post. He was empowered to offer ten thousand dollars a year, and if that did not secure him he was to go as far as fifteen thousand dollars.
The agent went to China and found his man. The situation was explained and the post offered at ten thousand dollars, but to the agent’s surprise the missionary declined it. Eleven thousand, twelve thousand and fifteen thousand were successively offered and just as definitely refused. Finally the man asked in amazement what figure the missionary would take. The answer he got was something like this: ‘It is not a question of salary. The salary is magnificent, but the trouble is with the job. The job is too little. You offer me a big salary but a small job. I get a small salary but I have a big job. I would rather have a big job with a small salary than a small job with a big salary. Thank you for the confidence in me expressed in your offer, but I feel that I should be a fool to quit winning souls to sell oil!’
The reader may quite possibly disagree with attitude of the young missionary, whilst admitting that he acted from high and altruistic motives. You might have no hesitation in saying that, in your opinion, he was a fool in not quitting his soul–winning for oil–selling. Who is right in this matter? Did the folly lie in quitting soul–winning or in not quitting it? How can the point be decided? Only in one way—by correctly estimating THE VALUE OF A SOUL. We are fairly well acquainted with oil, its uses and its value. Are we as well acquainted with the value of the soul? What about your soul? What are you worth? One who knows these things beyond all others has asked the question, “For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul? for what should a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8: 36, 37). Having asked it, He left it unanswered. The ‘profit’ here is only loss, tragic and irremediable. There is absolutely nothing for which a man may safely exchange his soul. The value of your soul is beyond all human reckoning.
Do you believe this? Then you will not hesitate as to what you should do in regard to your own soul. You will not trifle with it. You will not exchange it for money or pleasure. No, you will commit it into the hands of the Son of God who died and rose again for your salvation. Then we shall be able to speak of you, amongst many others, as “receiving the end (the result) of your faith, [the] salvation of [your] souls” (1 Peter 1: 9).
The missionary understood the importance of soul–work for he understood the value of the soul. Do you? Or are you pursuing that which is but for a time? “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust spoils, and where thieves do not dig through nor steal” (Matt. 6: 20). Was the missionary right in his choice? Was it worth while? Surely it was!