Losing Your Life to Save It
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
~ Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV)
What comes to mind when you see a cross? Maybe you think of it as the symbol of the church or of Christianity. For many, the cross is a fashion accessory or maybe even a tattoo. The early church, however, did not use a cross as their symbol; they used the fish as their symbol. The early church did not wear crosses; they died on crosses. It was an upsetting, shocking image.
In the first century, people who lived in any area occupied by the Romans knew about crosses, because the Romans had a penchant for crucifying people. Crucifixion was not an efficient way to put a person to death. There were far more effective ways. The Romans used crucifixion as a means of torture. They used it to inflict the maximum amount of pain. They crucified people and put them on public display to serve as a warning to anyone who would dare defy the power of Rome.
That’s why Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). It was an alarming way to phrase it. And it meant one thing: death. That sounds pretty unappealing. You imagine yourself living a miserable, sacrificial life—an unhappy life.
But Jesus went on to say, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (verse 25). The fact of the matter is that when you’re truly taking up your cross, you’re experiencing life.
The objective is not to learn to love yourself; it is to deny yourself. If you actually want to find yourself, then lose yourself. And how do you lose yourself? You take up your cross and follow Him.
Lord, thank You for the gift of this day. Whatever happens to me today, help me to consider today a blessing, for the mere fact that You’ve given me another day of life. Help me to carry my cross (name your crosses) with strength, with humility and with confidence. Help me to deny my own desires and to seek after Your commandments. Help me to be a good follower. Help me to do these things today, and then tomorrow, and then the next day, for as many days as You will give me in my life to carry my cross and follow. As Your cross lead you not only to crucifixion but to Resurrection, help me to carry my cross not only in this life, but into Eternal Life. Amen.In Jesus,
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Devotion by Harvest Christian Fellowship; all rights reserved.
The unexpected benefit of a sacrificial life.