"What Does it Profit a Man..." in a new light

Many of us are familiar with the words of Jesus found in Mark 8 “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?”

For as long as I can remember, I understood these words to speak to the vanity of chasing wealth only for it not to matter in the long haul - i.e. our eternal destination. 

However, as I’m recently doing some literal soul-searching - starting with “What is a soul?” - I came across Dallas Willard’s understanding of this famous saying. 

Willard would say that Jesus is not talking about a destination here - he's talking about a diagnosis. 

Which is hard to understand unless we know what "soul" really means. Willard sketches it out like the image above. The soul is the integration of body, mind, and will.

A succinct definition of each:

The will can be understood as our intentions and our choices on a day to day basis. 

The mind can be understood as the totality of our thoughts, feelings, values, and conscience. 

The body can be understood as our actual physical entity, the one area we have the potential for full domain over, but is still subject to addictions and habits and demands. 

And the soul is the integration of all three of these subcomponents. The total picture. 

So if someone were to "gain the whole world" in a way that they "lose their soul" - it could be understood that their soul is lost because the will, mind, and body are disjointed. Or disintegrated, as Willard says:

"For the ruined soul - that is, where the will and the mind and the body are disintegrated, disconnected, and living at odds with other - acquiring the whole world could not even produce satisfaction, let alone meaning and goodness."

I think for many of us (myself included) we focus less on the entire soul, and more on one or two of the subcomponents. Our actions, our will-power, our habits, our mindset. And this can create that disintegration when they become at odds with each other. 

When our actions (will) don’t align with our beliefs (mind)...

When what we feel (mind) doesn’t align with what we do (body)…

When our money doesn’t align with values..

In our pursuit to "gain the world" - fame, success, reputation, wealth, prestige, whatever else - we have to remain diligent in examining our souls along the way. Our relational, physical, spiritual, and financial health among others.

"To lose my soul means I no longer have a healthy center that organizes and guides my life. I am a car without a steering wheel. It doesn't matter how fast I can go, because I am a crash waiting to happen."  (John Ortberg)

Gaining the outside world doesn't help us if our inside world collapses. 

This is maybe what Jesus originally meant. 

These are some raw thoughts - pretty much all lifted from reading material by John Ortberg and Dallas Willard in recent weeks. And I don’t think it’s a hard pivot to see how it applies to our financial decision - and how money is tied into our soul’s well-being. It takes some intentional work to dig this deep, to see what aspects of our will are disjointed from our mind, or aspects of our mind that are disjointed from our body. But the effort is well worth it. 

When that disjointment is left unchecked, our soul becomes tired. And we run the risk of wounding it indefinitely. 

Interesting Resources

Dallas Willard
"The most important thing about you is not the things that you achieve; it is the person that you become."

3rd Stimulus Payments and Child Tax Credit
A few mins | Kiplinger 
Well - like it or not, it appears that a third round of stimulus payments are en route to most Americans. As it currently stands (approved by the House, slightly modified but not voted on by the Senate as of writing) each family member will receive a one time $1,400 stimulus payment as long as families filing jointly have adjusted gross income underneath $150k. Kiplinger's has an estimator here for the stimulus payment. 

Planning note: again, as it stands right now, the income phase out for this starts at $150k ($75k for filing single) and is based on whatever most recent tax return the IRS has for you. So if your 2020 income is north of $150k ($75k) but your 2019 is south of it - it could be wise to hold on filing your 2020 return. 

Flying somewhat under the radar, at least from the chatter I've seen, is an additional enhanced child tax credit for the 2021 tax year (that may eventually become permanent). What's interesting though is that it's just not applied when you file your taxes - half of the amount will be paid out ahead of time on "regular" intervals. The amount is either $3,600 per kid (age 5 and under) or $3,000 per kid (ages 6-17). From a cynical standpoint, this appears to me to be a basic universal income masqueraded as something else - but it's important to pay attention to. Kiplinger's has an estimator for that as well. 

Most Day Traders Lose Money
18 min read | Vantage Point Trading
With so many more people day trading recently - and seemingly making ludicrous money doing so - it's helpful to step back and really see what is going on here. This is kind of an inside look written from a day trader, who admits that 90-95% of traders lose money. To be fair, he says that is definitely possible to be consistent in winning - but the law of averages is not in your favor. 

i thank You God for this most amazing
90 second listen | ee cummings (audio) 
Poetry is something I still wrestle with truly appreciating - but there is something about the idiosyncratic nature about cummings that is compelling to me. I saw someone else mention this audio of the poet reading his own work, and it really struck me (dare I say, on a soul level).  
A friend recently asked me what I've been learning lately - and what I've mentioned above about understanding the "soul" more was my answer. I feel I'm just starting to glimpse a paradigm shift for me.

There's much, much more to read and comprehend on this - but where I've started is "Soul Keeping" by John Ortberg and "Renovations of the Heart' by Dallas Willard. Both of which were highly referenced in a previously mentioned book, "The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry" by John Mark Comers. So if you're curious about this topic, these resources have been my starting point that you could join me at. 

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