If we have been behaving in a silly or strange way, I’m sure we know what it means when someone asks “Have you lost your mind?”. However, most of us will be quite puzzled if someone asks “Have you lost your soul?”. How many of us will give such a question any serious thought? How many people actually believe that the soul exists? So why did Christ ask the crowd: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37)?
A built-in self-test (BIST) is a mechanism that permits a machine to test itself. Engineers design BISTs to meet requirements such as high reliability and lower repair cycle times. For instance, the typical personal computer tests itself at start-up (called POST) because it’s a very complex piece of machinery, and medical devices test themselves to assure their continued safety. What about the human person, do we need a “BIST” to determine if we are functioning or behaving according to the purpose we were created?
I find it quite interesting what Christ did immediately after His baptism by John at the Jordan. The Gospel of Luke tells us: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). Why did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted or tested by the devil? What was the Spirit trying to achieve? Why did Jesus agree to the test?
I’m sure most of us know what happened during the temptation of Jesus. Knowing His hunger, Satan told Jesus to use His Divine power to make stones become bread (Luke 4:3). As weak as Jesus was, though, He resisted this temptation, as He did all others, by finding strength in the Word of God. Scripture was His source of strength and should be ours too. It supplies us with all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and furnishes us completely (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus relied totally upon it. So should we. Notice also the attitude demonstrated by Christ in His response to Satan. Even though He greatly hungered, He recognized that the fleshly, material things of life are secondary to things spiritual in nature and secondary to doing the will of God.
In Matthew 6 Jesus preached this attitude to the multitude. He told them not to be overly concerned with things temporal and material but to seek first the kingdom of God and all these would be provided (Matthew 6:24-33). A Christian’s first concern must be to do the will of God. He must put material things in the background. Yet, the order is often reversed. Many spend their lives solely in pursuit of material things and pay little or no attention to the Word of God. Jesus spoke of such a person in Luke 12 in the parable of the rich fool. This man was a prosperous farmer. He had diligently worked and had gotten such a large harvest that he was going to tear down his existing barns to build larger ones in order to house his bountiful crop. He was then going to enjoy material life to the fullest. But Jesus called him a “fool” — that very night his life was required of him — he had lived solely for the material and had not been “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
Christians are not always free from this kind of thinking. Sometimes material possessions start having a lot more prominence in our lives. Sometimes, even unnoticed, they overtake us and fill our hearts (Matthew 13:22). Though at some point in time Christ and His Word were most important to us, now they are not. Paul said the love of money caused some to err from the faith and pierce themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10). To be successful in life and pleasing to God, we must be concerned with doing His will. Do not put material things above Him. Do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deut 8:3).
To do this, we have to constantly examine our lives with the help of the Holy Spirit. If Christ had to undergo the temptation after His baptism, what about mere mortals like us? Shouldn’t we put ourselves through regular spiritual self-test to determine our readiness to do the will of God, and then allow the Spirit to renew our minds?
Let us praise God with the song “Jesus, O living Word of God”: