Whatever happened to the concept of the soul? All our conversation, it seems, revolves around our bodies and money: how we look, how to stay healthy, how to remain young, how to become wealthy.
Concern for our bodies drives a large segment of our economy. United States health care expense alone passed the $2.4 trillion mark in 2008. Most of this, of course, is corrective surgery and treatment, but elective cosmetic surgery totals more than $13 billion. This includes liposuction, breast augmentation and hair removal. The fitness industry with its books, talk-shows and exercise facilities is enormous.
I can understand this. Since my body is the only one I have, I want to take care of it. Of course, I guess there are limits to which I want to do this. Blue Bell ice cream is hard to resist and I like to sit in the stands snacking on a hot dog and coke while I watch healthier people compete on the field.
I can also understand our interest in money. We all have to pay our bills, and most of us have ambitions to own our home, drive a nicer car, send our kids to college and enjoy vacations.
But what happened to the concept of the soul? We seldom hear the word mentioned. Jesus taught that, as important as our bodies may be, nothing is as important as our soul.
Regarding the body in comparison to the soul, He said, “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” With respect to money, Jesus said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Horatio G. Spafford, a wealthy lawyer in the 1860s seemed to live a charmed life enjoying both health and wealth. But, in 1870, he lost his son to Scarlet Fever. The next year he lost most of his holdings in the Great Chicago Fire. Suffering financial loss, he used most of his resources to feed the hungry, house the homeless and comfort the grief stricken. When his wife’s health began to fail, he decided to move his family to Europe. Delayed by his commitments at work, he sent his wife and four daughters ahead. On Nov. 22, 1873, their ship sank at sea. Only his wife survived.
Returning to the spot where the ship sank, Horatio Spafford stood looking over the swelling seas where his daughters drowned and wrote these words:
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.”
Horatio and Anna Spafford spent the rest of their lives caring for homeless children.
We are more than our bodies and more than our money. Our “soul” is who we really are whether rich or poor, healthy or sick. Our soul is shaped by acts of kindness, honesty, virtue, generosity and faith. The destiny of every nation and every generation is ultimately determined by the soul of its people.
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. Visit www.tinsleycenter.com. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: email@example.com