I recently heard the story of a young high school-age girl. She had money, popularity, and intelligence, and was bound for success. Before she graduated, she visited Uganda and witnessed the heartbreaking devastation of a corrupt, poor culture and its broken people. Instead of just feeling sorry for them and going back to her life of comfort in the States, she acted on her love for Jesus and moved there to set up a home and school to help the most destitute. She is still there, and her love for God and for His children has led to new life for countless people.
This is a girl who “lost” her life for Jesus’ sake.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
When Jesus spoke these monumental words, He spoke truth.
Think about it. What does your day involve, if not taking care of yourself? First thing in the morning, you are up to get your day going and almost everything you naturally do is to better your situation. You might wash your face, you might shower. Surely, you will drink some coffee and eat some breakfast. You might even rush outside for a run or head to the gym to find a treadmill.
Everything you do in the beginning of your day is for your personal well being. You wash to erase the sleep from your face, you brush and apply make-up to make yourself look better. You drink caffeine or fruit juice to energize yourself. You eat to satisfy your empty stomach. You exercise to get your blood flowing and wake yourself.
And that’s just 45 minutes into your day.
So what about the rest of the day? Whether you are dressing or heading out to lunch or preparing for a presentation at the office, or taking a nap or tuning in to your favorite song, or pretty much everything you do throughout the day, you are trying to better existence.
See a pattern here? I do, and I can identify cause I’m in the same situation as you. Self-preservation, non-stop, 24 hours a day.
What was that Jesus said? “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it…”
My friends, this is chilling, if you really think about it. We are, by default, saving ourselves every day, all day, without reservation.
Now someone might pipe in here: “Well, I do what I do for the people I love, the ones I take care of.”
But is this really true? Do we do all we do simply because we love other people? So, if we didn’t have family or friends to care for, we would eliminate most of what occupies our daily life?
Not a chance.
No, we do what we do because we are selfish, plain and simple. We live our lives to better our lives.
So, how can we take this word of wisdom from Jesus? Well, I believe Jesus was talking about priorities. Clearly, He did not mean we are not to feed or clothe ourselves – there are certain necessities for living on earth. But the mass of the world is not interested in taking care of their necessities.
They are interested in surplus.
In other words, much (if not most) of what we do, we do because by nature we are never satisfied with adequate. We like surplus. We like extra. We are always wanting more. And more.
Our world is in the business of “saving” themselves, every day, in every way. We are saving our bank accounts, saving our investments, saving our health, saving our public images – and so we don’t have the time or resources to save anyone else.
If you doubt this, look at your bank statement. Look at the transactions. Go down the list and start checking off all the transactions that were ” save your life ” oriented:
- unnecessary food and drink
- extra clothing
- extra, additional, surplus things
And that’s just our money! What about the way we spend out time? The truth is, the vast majority of our resources are used up building “us up”.
Jesus is calling His people to a very, very high standard here. And I honestly don’t think people give much thought to just how high this standard really is.
Jesus is saying we are to view our life in such a minimal way that we are essentially “losing” our life. Like the girl in the story. We are to use up our lives for the advancement of the kingdom of God. We are to exist for the glory of Christ, and that has very practical implications.
The needs are virtually everywhere. You cannot walk half a mile without witnessing needs. They might even be right across the hall. Or next door. They are ubiquitous. There are lonely people, children without parents, hungry people, people destroyed by drugs and alcohol, sex addicts, depressed people. Even apparently successful people who are as directionless as the waves of the sea and without hope.
The point is, we don’t have to uproot and head over the ocean to obey the calling of God. He uses His people in every place and every culture on earth. The issue is simply being open to His leading, and being willing to lose some of what we work so hard to save.
As Christians, our duty (and opportunity) is to serve. In serving people, we are serving Christ. But we must not think Jesus is talking here about merely performing good works. Anyone is able to perform good works, sometimes. What Christ is talking about in this passage involves giving up of oneself to Him, wholly and completely. And when this has happened, there will flow out of the life a renewed purpose, and this will be evident in the way one lives. This will be evident in how one “loses” his life.
If you are to save your life, you must lose your life. “…whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”