"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
To them that has to be one of the most stupid verses ever promoted by any sane human being. Probably, to them, they do not understand its profound meaning.
We have been indoctrinated by our American society ethos that to pursue liberty and happiness is what life is all about. What person of sound mind could deny this is a healthy and even noble purpose.
We have been raised to work hard, to achieve as much happiness as possible, and there is nothing wrong with that. Yet, for the disciples of Christ (those who have chosen to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus), there is an even more significant purpose for those who not only understand true love, but who know what it requires.
These folks do not prepare for the future by working solely to purchase things that please the flesh, nor do they work solely to enjoy all the recreational and fun things being offered up by the money changers of the world in this roller coaster journey we call life. They don’t even think about their life's work as a means to save enough to one day retire in comfort.
Obviously it takes money to purchase the necessities of life, but working hard primarily to make tons and tons of money to insure your future, or even to keep up with the Jones', was not God's intent to live a completely fulfilled life. Having millions of dollars can never insure your future; it merely means you have been entrusted by God to see exactly how you will use those funds. To spend that wealth solely to indulge your dreams and desires is not the true purpose of that blessing. Actually, you have been given the opportunity to handle those funds to examine what positive impact you can have on others; mostly they should be used to secure resources to help those without. Those whom God has chosen to bless financially (through honest means) recognize that all money is God's money and that we are mere stewards of the funds we have been entrusted to manage. The unselfish disciples of Christ recognize that their work is not geared to earn funds to buy things many people cherish, the things of the world that amuse and titillate the flesh, to spend them by eating at those new restaurants, buying expensive but not necessarily unneeded clothing and jewelry, new cars and homes, and all the other luxuries life has to offer. They have chosen the life of a servant to do God’s will, which is to care for the poor, infirm, homeless, orphans and other people in need. They know that all money should be used for the service of others.
Are we speaking of practicing a "Socialist" economic lifestyle such as taking money from others and giving it to someone else? Absolutely not! Without getting into examining the existent and or varying standards and philosophies of any country's economic structures, we are speaking of viewing the management of our personal money in a way that not only blesses other needy folks, but God's method of insuring that He will always take care of our needs because we take care of the needs of others. That's God's formula for financial success. The more you give to others insures the more He will insure all of your needs are met! You cannot out give God (see 2 Corinthians 9:6-11)!
Also, by helping others, we are not talking about pouring all of your funds to the local church. True churches should never depend on their existence solely from its members. The church that prospers is the church that trust God for it administrative needs, including a pastor's salary and the upkeep of the building and its expenses. Too many church groups (especially its leaders) have outlined programs designed to extract money from their members, just as if they were operating a local 7-11 store. We are focusing on how each individual should view their own finances, which require prioritizing!
If the money we have obtained through hard work (or even an unexpected windfall) is spent on unnecessary items, then we fail to understand God's formula for financial success. Focusing our funds on those things that supposedly provide self-esteem, such as the latest fashions, haute cosmetics, gym classes, fad diets, occult awareness sessions and all of those things that (are supposed to) bring us self worth and other intrinsic, ego-stroking pleasure, is a misguided purpose in the journey of life.
No, these folks who do not love this current (temporal) life are devoted to work that results in their storing their treasures in heaven, those acts and deeds that touch the lives of those less fortunate, not those temporal toys (and tangible) accouterments that will eventually turn to dust, which will also be tested by fire to see if they last on Judgment Day (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). These are the folks who do not view their lives as a means to achieve fame and fortune, but rather to serve their fellow man. For that matter, based on the prevailing quest by most humans to achieve fame and fortune is rather disgusting to them. They actually hate their lives for the meaningless opportunities that confront them, those that do not fullfil them with the peace of mind in knowing they have helped others less fortunate, but actually become repulsed with gluttony-filled aura that rules the world!
However, those who are prepared to give up everything to gain the peace and joy that can only be filled through a deep relationship with Jesus Christ, actually hate their temporary lives, and would rather lose them than co-exist in a world that seeks to gain all things, but yet lose it all in the end.
Once again, Matthew Henry, one of history’s greatest commentators on things biblical, provides deep insights to what it means when God tells His children, that if you love your life (in this temporal world) you will eventually lose it:
"He foretells and promises an abundant recompense to those who should cordially embrace him and his gospel and interest, and should make it appear that they do so by their faithfulness in suffering for him or in serving him.
In suffering for him (v. 25): He that loves his life better than Christ shall lose it; but he that hates his life in this world, and prefers the favor of God and an interest in Christ before it, shall keep it unto life eternal. This doctrine Christ much insisted on, it being the great design of his religion to wean us from this world, by setting before us another world.
See here the fatal consequences of an inordinate love of life; many a man hugs himself to death, and loses his life by over-loving it. He that so loves his animal life as to indulge his appetite, and make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, shall thereby shorten his days, shall lose the life he is so fond of, and another infinitely better. He that is so much in love with the life of the body, and the ornaments and delights of it, as, for fear of exposing it or them, to deny Christ, he shall lose it, that is, lose a real happiness in the other world, while he thinks to secure an imaginary one in this. Skin for skin a man may give for his life, and make a good bargain, but he that gives his soul, his God, his heaven, for it, buys life too dear, and is guilty of the folly of him who sold a birth-right for a mess of pottage.
See also the blessed recompense of a holy contempt of life. He that so hates the life of the body as to venture it for the preserving of the life of his soul shall find both, with unspeakable advantage, in eternal life. Note, First, It is required of the disciples of Christ that they hate their life in this world; a life in this world supposes a life in the other world, and this is hated when it is loved less than that.
Our life in this world includes all the enjoyments of our present state, riches, honors, pleasures, and long life in the possession of them; these we must hate, that is, despise them as vain and insufficient to make us happy, dread the temptations that are in them, and cheerfully part with them whenever they come in competition with the service of Christ, Acts 20:24; 21:13; Rev. 12:11.
See here much of the power of godliness—that it conquers the strongest natural affections; and much of the mystery of godliness—that it is the greatest wisdom, and yet makes men hate their own lives. Secondly, Those who, in love to Christ, hate their own lives in this world shall be abundantly recompensed in the resurrection of the just. He that hateth his life shall keep it; he puts it into the hands of one that will keep it to life eternal, and restore it with as great an improvement as the heavenly life can make of the earthly one."
Thank you, Matthew Henry, for your gift of discernment, and for allowing us the privilege to see deeply into God’s word for its illuminating and edifying wisdom.
Folks, the true followers of Christ throughout history have been persecuted and many have been killed for their belief in Jesus. The early disciples were heavily persecuted, yet they continued to grow in faith. Not only did they have to deal with tribulation, they also had to deal with false teachings.
Sadly, some people use Christ as a tool for personal gain in this world. We don’t have to point to the obvious group of “fire and brimstone” preachers who use their religion as a means to get wealthy; their deeds are known to most people, to the shame of those who truly work to tender their skills, time and talent to serve the downtrodden. Some so called “Christians” even (today) persecute and kill innocent people for more wealth and power. These corrupt the truth of the gospel to lay up treasures on this earth rather than in heaven.
It is important to realize that just because one calls themselves a Christian people (or nation), does not mean they will enter the kingdom of God and have eternal life. Those who do the will of the Father which is in heaven will enter the kingdom. Jesus said to love your enemies and to do good to them that hate you. He said to pray for them which persecute you.
Today, there are still those who do the will of God, and those who do not do the will of God. And, the end of it all, for them, is the eternal promise of God for those who choose to lose their lives for Jesus. That promise is found in the verse (26) that follows:
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor (John 12:26, KJV)
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