Hate My Life to Keep It?

         One of the strongest instincts we humans possess is self-preservation. We will do almost anything to stay alive. This instinct spills over from the physical into the emotional as well. Even little kids intuitively know when they are about to get into some kind of trouble and they will lie and connive to protect themselves. We shy away from commitment in order to protect our hearts from possible breakage, and refuse to start down educational or career paths for fear of failure.

          Although times have changed, people have not. The same self-preservation instincts existed in the folks who were contemporaries of Jesus. Knowing what people are like, as He approached the time of His physical departure from them, Jesus challenged this very instinct to get them to understand what it would take to be a true follower of His. He told them, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” John 12:25-26 (NKJ).

          Why would it be that if I love my life, I’ll lose it? Aren’t I supposed to value myself, seeing my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit? Hate my life to keep it? What double-talk was this? Aren’t I supposed to love my neighbor as I love myself? How can I hate my life and love myself at the same time?

         This John 12 passage is no contradiction of other Scriptures. Jesus is talking about our having the correct foundational perspective. When Jesus refers to a person “who loves his life,” He’s speaking of someone who is stubbornly connected to what he wants for himself. All too often, we find ourselves caught up in this mindset, following our feelings and emotions rather than abandoning those to follow hard after God. (See Psalm 63:8 in both the KJV and NIV.)

          In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus again makes the point clear that we are not where we need to be in our walk with Him if we insist upon living the way we want to live. He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” (NKJ)

          We say we’re Christians, but what parts of our lives are we refusing to turn over to the Master? Here’s a hint: it’s the part of our lives with which we want to be comfortable. It’s those destructive habits, that contrary lifestyle, those inbred attitudes that we blasphemously even have the nerve to blame on God insisting, “Well, He knows how He made me.”

          We were born in sin and with sinful tendencies. That’s what God knows. And because He knows that about us, He sent His Son to die on the Cross to take those sins away. It’s now up to us to let those sins go – release them as the dead albatross that they are, and let them sink into the sea of forgetfulness where God places all the rest of our sinful ways. Denying ourselves means we are willing to trust God to replace what we want to be with what He wants us to be. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that denying ourselves will take work and it won’t feel comfortable at first. However, the same determination we’ve had to hold onto our sin, is the same determination we must now apply to holding on to what God has for us. And what’s the ultimate promise? Keeping our life for eternity and being honored by God.

          Well, when we see it this way, losing our life is certainly worth it.


©2012 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

 And pick up a copy of Sharon’s new book, Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame, available at Christian bookstores, online, from New Hope Publishers, and from the Life That Matters Ministries’ website.


~ by sanewriter on June 1, 2012.

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