The warning in this scripture is quite a difficult one for many people in this world. It flies in the face of human wisdom, which is not unusual because God’s wisdom is different to human wisdom. But this particular saying in Verse 33 is a bit of a puzzle and it has quite a kick, so let’s have a look at it.
Gaining Your Life to Lose Your Life
The Lord here is talking about those people who are looking to make a life in this world. Their focus is on the things of this world and all the finery that the world offers. They want the best this world has to offer: riches, fine clothes, good foods, fancy cars, houses, property and so on.
This is what he is speaking about in relation to “gaining your life.” It is gaining your life in this world. So what’s the problem with that you may ask? Isn’t it the will of God to give his people all good things? Doesn’t he want us to be rich, as some church leaders preach these days?
The issue here is not the things themselves. Nowhere does the Lord say to put any focus or priority on the things of this world. In fact he goes as far as to say that it will be difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 19:24 he said, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The issue is that when a person focuses on the things of this world they are not focussed on the Lord. They have their minds set on the flesh and not on the Spirit. As Paul wrote, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8)
Losing Your Life to Gain Your Life
The converse of the above then is to lose your life so that you can gain your life. So what he is saying here is to be prepared to give up all of the things of this life in this world in order to gain eternal life and life with God. He shows us this in several places.
Whatever a person puts in front of their walk with God as more important than their walk is something that could take them away from the Lord. Anything can possibly be an issue if it gets in the way of your relationship with Christ. Look at what the Lord said in this scripture, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)
Even family and friends must not stand in the way of your relationship with the Lord. You may hope that they are the Lord’s children as well and that they have seen the truth of Jesus in you, but if they are not, then they can be used by the devil to tear you down and take you away from Christ. That must not happen.
The reward of a true and sincere devotion to Christ is that you will gain your life with him, even if it means losing everything in this life including those who are near and dear to you. These are tough words and this is a tough thing to do, but it must be done.
Consider Abraham who was more than one hundred years old and had only one son by Sarah, Isaac, and who was told that through Isaac his descendants would be as many as the grains of sand by the sea. Abraham was instructed by the Lord to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to test his faith. And Abraham’s faith in God was so strong that he took Isaac to be sacrificed for he believed that God would be able to raise him from the dead if necessary. (Hebrews 11:17-19)
The bottom line in all of this is that we need to learn to trust God. We need to have the faith that Abraham had so that if we are tested we too can stand in the faith we have in Jesus Christ. We need to understand that we may not have the riches of the world in this life, but what God has promised us in the next life will make the riches of this world meaningless and worthless by comparison.
So remember the promises of the Lord. Remember that he has said in relation to the requirements of this life, “For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:32-33)
And he has also said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) So be confident in the Lord and listen to his words, knowing that he does not lie. God will sustain you regardless of what the world does. And what Jesus offers us is infinitely more than what the world offers. If it means you lose your life in this world but gain your life in Jesus Christ, then it is worth it. Trust God and keep strong in your faith.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Robert Rosamond)