A Bad Trade

Steve Jobs and Apple have been in the news: the announcement of the iPad, good quarterly earnings, and a stock price over $200 a share. But when Apple Computer began in 1976 it was a simple partnership with Steve Wozniak (45%), Steve Jobs (45%), and Ronald Wayne (10%).

Apple had released the Apple I, but the partners still kept their day jobs. They weren’t making that much money yet. Wozniak did design work in his apartment. Jobs worked out of his bedroom in his parent’s house, and the Apple I was put together in the garage of the Job’s home. It was in these early days of the business that Wayne wanted out. He sold his 10% stake in Apple Computers to Jobs and Wozniak for a whopping $800. Industry analysts calculate that if he had held on to this 10%, it would have been worth $1.5 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.” It turned out to be a very bad trade. 

But I know of a worse trade, a worse exchange. Listen to the words of Jesus:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.  Matthew 16:24–27, ESV

The whole world is a grand thing to have – wealth beyond imagining. But the soul is worth more. One dictionary defines the soul “as the seat and center of life that transcends the earthly.”1 It is my spiritual life, and it is life in the age to come.

Ronald Wayne made a bad trade selling 10% of Apple for $800, but we can sympathize with the mistake. He didn’t know the future. He didn’t know what was ahead. He didn’t know what he was trading.

There is the striking difference with Jesus’ invitation. Jesus has made clear what is at stake. Jesus’ claims need to be seriously evaluated, because what is at stake is everything near and dear to us, our very soul. Don’t make a bad trade.

1Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (1099). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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