If I Gained the World


For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:28)?

If I Gained the World is another hymn that has been in my heart for as long as I can remember, though it is rarely sang today. My heart learned this compelling song early in my life as I listened to the late Neil Queen sing it at the Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

If I Gained the World is based on Mark 8:36, For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? The question is one of the most serious questions we will ever answer and surely most of us will answer it, more than once. This life offers so many material things, riches, popularity, power, pride – all things that seem important to us earthly brings. Yet, what are they really in life? Can they, do they, give us inner peace, joy?

Even with so much, will it satisfy your soul? What will so much do for you, for me, as we slip into eternity? Jesus gave us this parable that speaks to this dilemma in Luke 12.

16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Jesus gives us the answer to the question of gaining the world versus not. In Matthew 6:33-34 he said But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. If we seek Him first He will give us peace and will take care of us, and we may even attain a few riches along the war.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt 6:19-21). Where is your treasure? Are you trying to gain the whole world, or even a small part of it, a world that will leave you empty?

The lyrics of If I Gained the World were written by Anna Olander, a Swedish hymn writer, in 1904. The words were set to a Swedish melody.

If I gained the world, but lost the Savior,
Were my life worth living for a day?
Could my yearning heart find rest and comfort
In the things that soon must pass away?
If I gained the world, but lost the Savior,
Would my gain be worth the lifelong strife?
Are all earthly pleasures worth comparing
For a moment with a Christ-filled life?

Had I wealth and love in fullest measure,
And a name revered both far and near,
Yet no hope beyond, no harbor waiting,
Where my storm-tossed vessel I could steer;
If I gained the world, but lost the Savior,
Who endured the cross and died for me,
Could then all the world afford a refuge,
Whither, in my anguish, I might flee?
 
O what emptiness!—without the Savior
’Mid the sins and sorrows here below!
And eternity, how dark without Him!
Only night and tears and endless woe!
What, though I might live without the Savior,
When I come to die, how would it be?
O to face the valley’s gloom without Him!
And without Him all eternity!
 
O the joy of having all in Jesus!
What a balm the broken heart to heal!
Ne’er a sin so great, but He’ll forgive it,
Nor a sorrow that He does not feel!
If I have but Jesus, only Jesus,
Nothing else in all the world beside—
O then everything is mine in Jesus;
For my needs and more He will provide.

Sources: Cyberhymnal, King James Version of the Bible

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