The Risk-Benefit Analysis of Life (Hebrews 11:24-26)

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.

When a patient goes to the doctor and has several possible treatments, they usually discuss each option’s pros and cons—called a risk-benefit analysis. The goal, of course, is to choose the best possible remedy with the fewest side effects. When it comes to our priorities in life, it’s not a bad idea to have the same strategy. So let’s look at Moses and see what we can learn from his “risk-benefit analysis of life.”

Moses was adopted into the royal family of Egypt, and his grandfather was none other than Pharaoh himself. As a result, he was raised with wealth, privilege, and power, and he had access to everything that a man could desire. So how did he not let it all go to his head?

Simply put, faith enabled him to foresee the outcomes of the life choices he faced—a risk-benefit analysis—which helped him choose the best possible result.

On the one side was his life in Pharaoh’s court with all its associated privileges, but it had a major flaw: it was only temporary. No matter how great the rewards, they would only last as long as he was alive on the earth. And then what?

On the other side was his heritage as a Hebrew. What drew Moses to identify with Israel wasn’t a shared ethnicity but the conviction that the Israelites were God’s people. To understand, we must briefly go back in time.

When God promised a nation of descendants to Abraham, he also prophesied that they would bless every tribe and nation on earth. By this, God announced that the Messiah would come through the nation of Israel. For Moses, this future Savior of the world was essential to his identity as an Israelite.

The choice that Moses faced wasn’t between his adopted Egyptian family and his biological Hebrew family, between riches and poverty, nor between the life of a royal and a commoner. No. His choice was between the God of Israel and the gods of Egypt. Would he believe the promise given to Israel—of the Messiah—and stake his life and eternity on it?

This is where faith came in. It allowed Moses to look past the present—and the limitations of his physical eyes—to see far into the future. Even though he would never witness the birth and life of Jesus Christ, he could nevertheless perceive him through the eyes of faith—thanks to the promise God gave Abraham.

Let me give a simple illustration. When I’m standing in front of my apartment building, I can see my neighbors’ houses and the trees that surround them. It’s not a bad view, but it doesn’t go very far. But when I’m on my balcony on the fifth floor, I can gaze upon row after row of houses and buildings stretching out into the horizon. This is what faith does. It lifts us from our immediate situation and gives us a new observation point, expanding our vision.

How could Moses have such faith? The same way we all do—by getting to know God better thanks to the testimony of others and by his own experience. No doubt he had heard the stories of the Lord’s work in the lives of his ancestors and the account of how he was saved as a baby from certain death. Ultimately, faith comes from recognizing that God is faithful and trustworthy.

And so, when Moses compared the outcome of both paths stretching out before him, he realized that the benefits of following the one true God far outweighed any risk or suffering involved because it was the only way to prepare for eternity. He understood that life on earth is just the first act of human existence, but it determines where the second act will play out.  

It’s not a bad idea to follow Moses’ strategy.

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