Scripture reveals a lot to us about truly living life. Would you think that a life focused on your own goals, your own desires, your own dreams would end up being something for Jesus to say: “You have to lose your life to find it.”? That’s where the rich young ruler found himself.
He came with an earnest question: “What do I do to enter this Kingdom you’ve been talking about?”
The answer: “Give up everything you deem to be life and success, and follow me.”
Now think of it… We know Jesus to be the Son of God because we have the Bible, cover-to-cover, to confirm these truths. But then, he had a former carpenter who was homeless and beholden to the support of others to tell him give up your wealth, your status, your plans and your expectations and come follow me. A former carpenter, some fisherman, a few zealots and a tax collector. Think about it. What would you have done?
It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me…
“For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?” ~ Matthew 16:26 (English Revised Version)
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” ~ Matthew 10:39 (NLT)
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. 28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
Matthew 16:24-28 (NKJV)
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:25-33 (NKJV)
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Philippians 1:19-26 (NKJV)
As Paul wrote these words, he was being persecuted for the Gospel he preached at the very threat of his life. As John recorded the blessed words of Revelation he was imprisoned an ancient man on the Isle of Patmos doing hard labor. Early church legend has it that John had actually been boiled in oil and survived. Paul was executed… James Martyred… Peter crucified… Could we walk the walk and call that living when such things happen all around us? When it is up close and personal, could we live the life: “To live is Christ and to die is gain”? Could we really hold onto hope and count it all joy?
Will we answer the call should this be our future? When our fellow Christians are being fed to lions for sport? When our children are taken from us and slaughtered and our feable bodies are in prison? Will we sings hymns and songs of praise from a grateful heart or grumble and complain like the Israelites in the desert? Will we…
To me, this thing we do in the western world where bank account balances, what neighborhoods you live in, what credit cards you hold, what social clubs you belong to, what clothes you wear, what school you go to and what car you drive bear so much weight in our everyday decisions that we miss the really living that Paul realized when he gave up his riches and status and his own agenda for shipwrecks, stonings, ridicule, house arrest and ultimately death all for the cause of the Gospel.
What would we really die for in light of all this? Jesus said it is not until we lose our own lives that we gain real life. And Paul and the other apostles knew what really living was all about.