It is amazing how interested God is in our making a profit. He tells us so repeatedly in Scripture. In fact, the various passages addressing the topic give the impression that the entirety of our lives should be driven by the profit motive.
The first item of importance in understanding this concept resides in the nature of profit. The type of profit God wants is agape, benefiting others. Our lives should be driven by maximizing the positive contribution we make to the lives of others.
Jesus shared several parables that spoke of his giving His servants talents or minas for the purpose of producing a profit. His interest in profit is manifested by His calling those entrusted with these resources into account. 2 Corinthians 5:10 speaks of the Judgment Seat of Christ where all believers will be called to give an account. Likewise, 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 describes this judgment during which God scrutinizes our productivity. The whole concept of stewardship has as its ultimate concern utilizing God’s resources profitably. In describing his ministry, the apostle Paul explains, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1Co 10:23) In other words, his lifestyle decisions were made based on what profit a given course of action would produce for the Lord.
God provides us with two general sets of tools to achieve that purpose: the Fruit of the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit.
The essence of the Fruit of the Spirit is being a loving person, a person whose life is characterized by agape. Galatians 5:22-23 describe the Fruit of the Spirit as being comprised of: “love, joy, peace, patience, graciousness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control.” Some believe that since the “fruit” is singular the essence of the Fruit of the Spirit is agape, the first characteristic, with the other eight qualities representing specific expressions of agape. Manifesting agape produces profit for God in that it honors Him by displaying His nature, it is a source of great blessing to others, and it builds relationships.
The Fruit of the Spirit also possesses the value producing quality of laying the foundation for ministry through the Gifts of the Spirit. We’ve all heard the expression, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.” We show how much we care through displaying the Fruit of the Spirit, which opens the door for us to show agape through exercising the Gifts of the Spirit.
We all have a package of spiritual gifts just as we have an assortment of natural gifts. God has given us those gifts in order that we might earn agape-type profit in the lives of other people. Whatever those gifts might be, giving, teaching, administration, helps, etc., God intended them as a means of benefiting others, and consequently earning profit for Him.
Perhaps all this seems self-evident. However, what I find useful in my reflection on this topic is its suggestion regarding the importance of approaching life from this perspective. It has prompted me to start assessing decisions, investment of time, energy, finances, and other resources, in terms of profitability. This perspective has been helpful in keeping me from saying and doing things that were not profitable and probably would have been counterproductive. It helps me sort out between better and best. It challenges me not to be impulsive but instead to plan.
One of the great aspects of this approach to life is its wholesomeness. We know of people who have neglected their family or their health or some other significant dimension of life because of ministry. However, all of those factors fall within the scope of profit. One means of profit is investing in our families. To continue to produce profit we must invest in our health. Therefore, maintaining a profit motive engenders a healthy, balanced approach to life. Being profit driven rather than producing a lopsided approach to life instead encourages a well-rounded one.
A great blessing of this approach to life resides in being able to come to the end of a day sensing that it was invested so as to produce maximum profit for the Lord, or at least as close to that goal as our human limitations can reach.