The Real Loser

What happens when you lose something? 

I lost my daughter once, when she was three. At the water park. She was there and then she wasn't. Terrified, we looked everywhere until we found her. Losing things we cherish is always accidental. We don't lose things we value on purpose. When we do lose something important to us, it's scary.

In Matthew 16:25, Jesus says something scary like that. "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." What does that mean? Martyrs lose their lives rather than deny Christ, but what about the rest of us? Do we have to die for Christ in order to fulfill this promise? What does it mean to lose your life for Christ's sake? And it sounds as though we are to do it intentionally.

The word "lose" might be better understood with an extra "o". Read the verse with the word "loose" instead. When we "loose" our lives, we don't hold on to them so tightly.  Jesus was saying that in order to follow Him fully, we cannot cling possessively to the things this world offers. Even the good things. Relationships. Family. Career. Home. Even  health, finances, and happiness.

When we choose to follow Jesus, we have to loosen our grip on anything that diverts our attention from Him. Even our own lives. If I am driving down the highway, I'd better keep my eyes on the highway or I will no longer be driving down the highway. If my attention is captivated by the color scheme on the building I'm passing or the little kids on a playground, I will soon be off the road. 

The same thing happens in our spiritual lives. Unless our attention is fixed on our goal, we are easily distracted and quickly lose our way. When our loyalty is divided between following Christ and pleasing ourselves, our flesh wins every time. We're good at justifying, explaining, and ignoring, but Jesus was clear that to do so results in losing everything that matters.

A. W. Tozer calls this "the blessedness of possessing nothing." Possessions and passions are gifts from God, but they can quickly become masters when we place too much importance on them. Jesus warned us that if we make those gifts our god, we will end up losing everything. 

But when we choose Him, we must loosen our grasp on everything else. When we willingly let go of everything we think we cherish to follow Jesus, He often entrusts us with those very gifts because they won't get in our way. We can be trusted to have them without possessing them.

In place of earthly passions, God grants us purpose that the world cannot offer. He turns our faces toward eternity and our hearts toward His. Only then do we discover real life the way God created it to be lived. When we "loose our lives for Christ's sake," we will find them.

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