Our Savior is trying to explain the relative values of our physical lives and what we can humanly accomplish to what awaits us in what is commonly called the afterlife. In short, there is no comparison!
Notice the Bible's consistency on the value of human life apart from God:
» Ecclesiastes 1:2-4: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever.
» Job 14:1-2: Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.
» Psalm 90:10: The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
» Isaiah 40:6-8: All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
» James 4:14: For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
» I John 2:17: And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
The physical life we would live now is a bowl of lentils compared with eternal life. It is nothing more than a vapor, a breath, a shadow. The passing pleasures and cares of the world will only gratify and satisfy the immediate desires. If our only interest is the immediate gratification that the world has to offer, we are indeed saying, "What profit is the Kingdom of God to me now?" Like Esau, we will despise our inheritance and go our way apart from God.
Our inheritance is the Kingdom of God. By seeking it and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33), we are telling God that we place high value on it, that we want it, that we want to be like Him and think like Him, and that we can be trusted to take care of His estate and to live and reign with Christ.
What Is Your Lentil Soup?
The apostle Paul tells Timothy that "godliness with contentment is great gain" and that, instead of possessions, we should be pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Philippians 4:11). Jesus Christ set our primary goal as seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The inevitable result of doing this will be wonderful blessings and eternal life.
Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment
The individual Jesus describes in this illustration had a hunger to gain the world and all it could give him. But because he would not control that hunger, he lost his eternal life. How tragic, especially since the rewards God offers far exceed what this world can offer!
A wrong hunger is a corrupt craving that cries out for satisfaction. Whether our hungers are physical (for food, alcohol, drugs, sex, wealth) or mental (for position, control, power, vengeance), we must overcome or control them. Otherwise, the fruit of illicit desires is always destructive. The Bible records the stories of many men who allowed their hungers to consume them. It also faithfully reports the unfortunate consequences.
We could name many examples of uncontrolled hungers that produced disaster in the lives in which they raged: David's hunger for Bathsheba, Joab's hunger for position, Gehazi's greed for Naaman's gifts, Jezebel's lust for power, Simon's unnatural desire for the Holy Spirit, and Judas' betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver. All their hungers produced nothing but evil.
John O. Reid
Do You Have 'the Hunger'?
Jesus calls upon His followers to reject the natural human inclination toward self. The first step is to submit and surrender to God our will, our affections, our bodies, and our lives. Our own pleasures and happiness can no longer be primary goals. Instead, we must be willing to renounce all and lay down our lives, if required. Peter admonishes us to "no longer live . . . in the flesh for the lusts of men," meaning we should no longer pursue wrong desires. Are we willing to forsake all, to give up everything including our lives? Our Christian duty is to deny our lust of the flesh.
Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 5): Self-Denial
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 16:26:
1 Corinthians 9:19-22