Saving Or Losing?
A daily devotion for January 15th
34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it (Mark 8:35).
Who is not interested in saving their lives, in making them worthwhile, full and rich, worth the living? Deep down within us, every one of us has a hunger for life and a desire to find it, to the full extent of what it was designed to be. This is what Jesus is talking about.
If this is what you want, He says,
I'll tell you how to acquire it. There are two attitudes toward life that are possible, and you can have only one or the other.
One attitude is to save your life now: hoard it, clutch it, cling to it, grasp it, try to get hold of it for yourself, take care of yourself, trust yourself, see that in every situation your first and major concern is,
What's in it for me? That is one way to live, and millions are living that way today.
The other attitude is lose it: fling it away, disregard what advantage there may be for you in a situation, and move out in dependence upon God, careless of what may happen to you. Abraham obeyed God, went out into a land he knew not where, on a march without a map, apparently careless of what would happen to him. His neighbors reproached and rebuked him for not caring about himself. This is to be a way of life, Jesus says. Trust God, obey Him, and put the responsibility for what happens on Him.
There are only two results that can follow. If you save your life, if you cling to it, hoard it, get all you can for yourself, then, Jesus says, you will lose it. This is not a mere platitude; He is stating a fundamental law of life. You will find that you have everything you want, but you will not want anything you have. You will find that all of the life you tried to grasp has slipped through your fingers, and you have ended up with a handful of cobwebs and ashes, dissatisfied, hollow and empty, mocked by what you hoped to get.
But lose your life for My sake and the gospel's, says Jesus,
lose your life by means of giving yourself away in the cause of Christ, giving up your right to yourself, taking up your cross and following Me, and you will save it. You will not waste it, but you will save it. You will find contentment and satisfaction, an inner peace, and a sense of worth about your living. You will discover, not just in heaven someday but right now, that even though you may not have all the things others have, your life will be rich and rewarding and satisfying.
This is God's part in the work of discipleship. Jesus did not come to call us to ultimate barrenness, weakness, darkness, and death. He called us to life, to richness, to enjoyment, to fulfillment. But He has told us that the way there means death. Discipleship ends in life, not in death. It ends in fulfillment and satisfaction. But the only way that we can find it is by means of a cross.
Father, help me to make the choice for life, and not for death, that by Your power You will help me find the grace to say yes to You, Lord Jesus, and to enter into life by means of the cross.
Life Application: Is relationship with Jesus radically changing our attitudes toward self and the way we live? What is God's plan for exchanging our death for His vibrant, timeless Life?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.