For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25
This verse is currently the wallpaper on my phone. Every time I activate the screen it both encourages and convicts.
I think to myself: Am I losing my life for His sake? After all, Jesus was willing to lose His own life for my sake.
In the eyes of the world I have lost much—especially in abandoning the Ivy-League career path to marry and do ministry alongside my husband. Have I then truly lost my life for Christ? Is that how He measures it? It is so tempting to base our spirituality on what others think, when in reality the diagnosis lies in the heart. We don’t only live for Christ in our big decisions, but in our everyday thoughts and attitudes.
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23
This verse is often referred to when navigating romantic relationships, but its application has such a far reach. In this case, our heart must be nurtured and guarded by His Word in order for it to welcome the life-giving sacrifices He asks of us. The Lord knows our every motivation, desire, and mission (Psalm 139), and this truth is never more crucial when it comes to our inward obedience and love toward Him.
Pray through these questions along with me:
- Do I surrender everything—my loved ones, image, success, control, etc.—to Him?
- Would I do anything for His sake, even saying “no” to what looks or feels good but is sin?
- Do I fight the skirmishes with selfishness through His power and for His glory rather than for my own?
- Do I love His cause and people, or do I cling to every shred of self secretly?
We can better answer these questions by looking at the verse in its full context:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 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? 27 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)
This challenge comes straight from our Savior’s lips, and it involves simple but life-changing truth.
1. Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross
What does this look like in your current place in life? How can you better seek God and His Kingdom, rather than be stuck in your own? Maybe it looks like addressing your husband’s needs first, treasuring moments to serve your kids rather than piling up complaints, or jumping on the urge to pray. There’s a raw beauty to self-denial, let the Holy Spirit help you discover it to His praise.
2. Don’t Try to Save Yourself
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and that includes each and every one of us. Admit and confess sin daily, don’t scramble to cover up wounds and offenses that only Christ can atone for. Trust Him to transform you, don’t listen to your desperately ill heart (Jeremiah 17:9).
3. Gaining the World is Dangerously Overrated
When we depend on the world for affirmation, yearn for its fleeting charms, or live off self-ambition, our relationship with God withers in the process. If we give ourselves entirely to anything apart from God, we have to examine if we are truly with Him (1 John 2:15-17).
4. What You Do Is Important
Christ will come again, and will our deeds have demonstrated our faith? His grace saves us, and yet our receiving of that grace is revealed by what we are willing to lose and willing to do for His glory.
5. You Only Find Life In Him
After reflecting on all of this it can be easy to fall into guilt or insecurity about our walk with the Lord. However, once more, God’s grace is sufficient. As long as we come before Him with trusting and meek hearts, He is faithful to grow us and draw us near to Him. Don’t forget that for those who do lose their life, they in fact find it. In a beautiful paradox, true life is found in giving all to Christ, for He is the source of everlasting joy as our Creator, Savior and ultimate King. He is worthy!
In closing, let’s be encouraged by the example of Apostle Paul: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8
P.S. As you take these active steps of belief, I also exhort you to find spiritual accountability and encouragement by joining a Bible-preaching church! Meeting with the family of God is a special aspect of the Christian walk, and it provides opportunities to serve, grow, and disciple others for Christ.
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