BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO
“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matt 25:26-30 NKJV).
To be profitable means to be beneficial, rewarding, useful, helpful, valuable, gainful, etc. God wants your life to be profitable to Him, yourself and others. He doesn’t want you to live a barren, unfruitful, unrewarding life.
In Matt 25:26-30, the servant who hid his one talent and accused his master wrongly of reaping where he didn’t sow was described by his master as an unprofitable (useless) servant among other things. He was useless to him because he failed to make profit with the talent he was given whereas his other two colleagues did. I’m sure this servant wasn’t profitable to himself either because he ended up being cast into the outer darkness – a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. That was the place he prepared for himself by his wicked and lazy life! Also, that servant wasn’t profitable to those who would have been blessed one way or the other if he had traded with the talent he was given.
There are many people today who’re not living a profitable life – even if it is just to be profitable to themselves! Parents expect their children to live a profitable life – be profitable to themselves, their parents and others and most importantly God. But by their choices and conduct, some children are living an unprofitable life which will lead to regrets in future, and if they don’t repent, they may spend their eternity in hell fire.
Such people are unprofitable to God who has invested so much in them by sending His Son Jesus to the earth to die on the cross to save them, and have also blessed them with outstanding gifts and talents which unfortunately Satan has hijacked in most cases and is using to take other blind people along with these people to hell fire.
The unfruitful fig trees
What people mainly look forward to in a fruit tree are the fruits and not the leaves – though the leaves could have other useful purposes. Fruit trees should produce fruits. But the fig tree mentioned in Mark 11:12-14, had only leaves but no fruits. It was therefore unprofitable (unbeneficial) to Jesus who was hungry and wanted fruits and not leaves. He therefore cursed the tree, and by the following day it had withered (verses 20-21). Your life shall be fruitful in Jesus’ name; you shall bear fruits that shall satisfy the hunger of your generation and generations to come. You shall not disappoint their expectations and Heaven’s expectation.
In Luke 13:6-9, the Bible talks about another unfruitful fig tree. In this parable by Jesus, the owner of the vineyard wanted to cut down this barren fig tree because it was just occupying space in the vineyard – it was unprofitable to him for three years. But the gardener asked the owner for a grace of one year more to see if after digging around it and applying fertilizer it would bear fruits and become profitable to the owner. You shall not be cut down in Jesus’ name. You shall be profitable to God, yourself and others. You shall not disappoint Heaven like these fig trees disappointed Jesus and the vineyard owner.
Therefore, I want to share with you some things you should know and do to live a profitable life.
How to make your life profitable
(1) Give your life to Jesus. The salvation of your soul is the beginning of living a profitable life. It gives your life the right direction – a redirection from hell fire to eternity with God. Mark 8:36-37 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NKJV).
New life in Jesus is profitable as it is shown in the life of Onesimus in Philem 8-11. Onesimus means profitable or useful but Paul said Onesimus was unprofitable to his boss, Philemon, before he ran away probably after having stolen from him. But Paul said after his salvation through his ministry in Rome, this run-away slave would become profitable to his master as he returned to him and also be profitable to Paul. New life in Jesus makes one’s life profitable. Are you born again? If not, I invite you to give your life to Jesus now.
(2) Study the Scripture regularly, meditate and obey. Without the Word of God, you’ll err or make so many mistakes in life. Jesus told the Sadducees in Matt 22:29, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (KJV). The Message puts it this way: “You don’t know your Bibles, and you don’t know how God works.”
Therefore pay attention to the Scripture. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut 8:3, Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4).
Don’t just read and study the Word, meditate on what you read and obey it. To obey is still better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). Meditation and obedience will give you prosperity, good success (Josh 1:7–8). It will make you wiser than your enemies, and give you more understanding than all your teachers. (Ps 119:97-99).
Disobedience to God or those you’re under their authority or accountable to is unprofitable or unbeneficial to you, so obey God and godly instructions (Heb 13:17).
(3) Open your heart to sound doctrine. Sound doctrine or teaching is profitable; wrong doctrine produces wrong practices. Sound doctrine is useful both to exhort (encourage) believers and convict those against it (Titus 1:9).
The teachings you hear or read determine a lot what happens or does not happen in your life. To a large extent, you’re a product of what you’ve heard and read or you’re hearing or reading. You become what you hear and focus on. Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:20, “And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house” (KJV). Also, Paul told Titus to speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine – promote the kind of living that reflects right teaching (Titus 2:1). To Timothy, Paul equally wrote that the time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine (2 Tim 4:2-4). Don’t hate sound doctrine, and be looking for teachings that will support or tolerate your wrong habits. Such a teaching won’t be profitable to you ultimately or make you profitable.
(4) Devote your life to useful service in the Kingdom of God and the fulfillment of God’s purpose for your life. Paul says to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:11 to bring Mark with him, for he was profitable (useful) to him for the ministry. Earlier in Acts 15:36-40, Paul and Barnabas had separated because of a sharp disagreement over Mark who had deserted them at Pamphylia during their first missionary journey. But both Paul and Mark later reconciled, and Mark served Paul in the ministry (Col 4:10).
Team up with others to serve in the Kingdom of God, and the greatest service is winning souls (Mark 16:15). It’s profitable. Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor (Eccl 4:9). But avoid wrong companionship; it will waste your life. Prov 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV).
Use your spiritual gifts and God-given talents to advance the Kingdom of God. There are things that you can do very well which others can’t do or you can do better than others because God has given you the grace for it. Labour in the area of your grace; don’t let the grace God has given you be in vain – work harder (1 Cor 15:10-11). Don’t bury your talents like the unprofitable servant in Matt 25:26-30. Like Paul urged Timothy, don’t neglect your gifts (1 Tim 4:14).
To live a profitable life, you must discover God’s purpose for your life and fulfill it; you must decongest your life and live in the pursuit of your destiny. It doesn’t mean that you must become a pastor! God has different destinies for all of us even though all of us are called to win souls for the Lord or serve as stewards in the house of God. Some people’s destinies are in education, business, politics, legal practice, etc. Pursuit of destiny is the only way to find fulfillment in life.
The day God encountered Saul (Paul) on the way to Damascus, and he surrendered to God, he asked a very important question: Lord, what do You want me to do? (Acts 9:6 NKJV). You should not devote your life to chase shadows but in the pursuit of what God has destined you for.
In 2 Tim 4:5, one of the important things Paul charged Timothy to do was to fulfill his ministry. Discover and fulfill your ministry or your destiny. That’s one of the prescriptions of living a profitable life.
(5) Pursue godly wisdom. Take note that I said godly wisdom. James 3:13-18 talks about two kinds of wisdom – wisdom that comes from above and wisdom that is earthly, sensual, devilish (demonic).
Pursue godly wisdom because it is profitable. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines wisdom as the “Ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.” There is no godly wisdom apart from God, His Word and the Holy Spirit – this is profitable. Therefore the more you expose yourself to the Word of God and listen to the Holy Spirit, the more godly wisdom you receive.
The psalmist says in Psalm 119:99-100 “I am wiser than all my teachers because I think about your rules. I have more understanding than the elders because I follow your orders” (NCV). The entire Bible is the book of wisdom though some books in the Bible like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes focus more on wisdom and life issues, and it could be highly rewarding reading them more regularly for spiritual wisdom on how to live a fruitful life.
Part of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians was that God would give them wisdom and spiritual understanding, and that among other things, they would be fruitful in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God (Col 1:9-10). Eccl 7:11 says, “Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and profitable to those who see the sun” (NKJV). According to Eccl 10:10, “Wisdom is profitable to direct” (KJV). Since wisdom is profitable, pursue it. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (Prov 4:7 NKJV).
If you desire godly wisdom, you can pray to God for it in faith, and He’ll give you liberally and without reproach (James 1:5-6).
To receive godly wisdom, you should also associate with wise people and benefit from their wisdom; have nothing to do with fools. Prov 13:20 says associating with fools will lead to destruction.
(6) Live a life of godliness. Godliness is profitable. Another word for godliness is holiness or righteousness. “A disciplined life in God” (1 Tim 4:8 TM) is profitable or beneficial; “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Tim 4:8 NKJV).
Godliness or holiness pays – it’s profitable. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord (Heb 12:14). Sin also pays! The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Do whatever is necessary to discipline yourself in God (Matt 5:29-30). According to 2 Tim 2:20-21, if anyone keeps himself pure, he’ll be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Be a gold and silver Christian, not a wood and clay Christian.
A life of sin is unprofitable – it’s useless. The devil only deceives people that they’re enjoying. Any advantage or supposed enjoyment will soon turn to sorrow and regrets. But godliness with contentment is a great gain – it is profitable (1 Tim 6:6). A sinful lifestyle will rob you of eternal reward (Matt 7:21-23).
(7) Cultivate a lifestyle of doing good deeds. Paul says those who have believed in God should be careful to practise good deeds which are good and profitable to everyone (Titus 3:8-9). “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it useful again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless” (Matt 5:13 NLT). Verse 16 says, “Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (NLT).
Good deeds are profitable both to the doer (benefactor) and the beneficiary, and of course, God is pleased. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). The doer is sowing a seed, and whatever seed a man sows that shall he reap (Gal 6:7). If you don’t get tired of doing good or get discouraged, you’ll certainly reap the harvest at the appropriate time; don’t give up (Verses 9-10).
Conclusion: Endeavour to live a profitable life. An unprofitable life is an unworthy life. Don’t live a selfish and useless life. At the end of your race on earth, may the Lord’s verdict be that you were a profitable servant. May your life not be a waste.
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523