Please read Matthew 16:24-26 carefully and contemplatively: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’”
Of course all lives matter — every race, nationality, occupation, socio-economic status, and maturity (pre-birth, immature, mature, or aged). They all matter. But I’m afraid we’re missing the point as to why this is so. It is not just because life is “precious,” although such is certainly true. It is not because we’re all “human beings” and ought to respect one another as such, although such is again true. All lives matter because there is a soul attached to each one. Having an opposable thumb or higher thought processes is not what separates our life from animal life. Nor is the value of every life necessarily tied to its temporal impact on the lives of others. Instead, all human lives matter because our Creator invested an eternal soul into every one of them.
Every “human” life matters because in each one God has placed a soul that will live forever. Sure, every life matters because of its inherent worth and potential in the here and now. But beyond that, each life determines the destiny of the eternal soul it temporarily houses. “Nothing lasts forever” has so permeated our thinking that the notion of an everlasting soul boggles the mind. Through time and our emphasis of it, we’ve cheapened “life” to the extent that we’ve forgotten that its most important function is the preparation of the soul for eternity. “Life” is temporary, but the soul it briefly houses is eternal. “Life” may last a relatively short or long time. It may be filled with joy or heartache, and usually most lives have periods of both extremes. It may be well regarded, or despised by others. It may be prolonged and benefited by others, or taken all too soon by others. But the soul each life contains, however briefly, lasts and lives forever. The soul is the true value and opportunity of each and every life.
Unfortunately, we can easily become so preoccupied with living and extending “life” that we forget or neglect its true purpose: the preparation of the soul for eternity. Think seriously about a few questions for a moment:
- Is what you’re doing day in and day out, week in and week out, and year in and year out preparing your soul for an eternity with or without God (Luke 12:15-20)?
- Are you giving more attention, concern, and effort to your temporal life or to your eternal soul (Luke 12:21)?
- Is your life more or less important to you than your soul, your eternal destiny (Matthew 16:26)?
Let’s make one more application before we’re done. Even when we truly believe and say that “All lives matter,” are we thinking only of race, or does this extend to lives that are sinful — perhaps even rebelliously so? Jonah didn’t think the lives of Assyrians (Nineveh was their capital city) mattered. He viewed them, and correctly so, as the enemy of his own nation, and wanted no part in the salvation of their souls (Jonah 4:1-3). He was even angry when God spared them due to their repentance (vv. 4, 8). But God not only knew — He appreciated and tried to teach Jonah the value of the souls there (vv. 6-11). Likewise, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day didn’t think that the lives of the tax-gatherers and sinners really mattered (Matthew 9:10-12). But Jesus knew that these lives mattered and acted accordingly (vv. 12-13). Let’s be careful lest we become all too much like Jonah and the Pharisees in missing the true value of each life — that it contains, albeit only temporarily, an immortal soul.
Adapted from Philip C. Strong