"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)
What a question, “Is anything worth more than your soul?” I think we would reflexively answer, "No way!" The truth is our words rarely tell the whole story of what we value. I have learned over time that words are down on the last of things we should use to measure what we love. In fact, Jesus says it this way, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
What does Jesus mean by that statement? First, we have to define treasure. Treasure is a valued or valuable item. That which we believe is necessary and precious to us. Jesus is saying, in a poetic way, If you want to know what your heart loves, just look at where you spend your time, money and energy. What do you make sacrifices for? What would you give to get ________? Or what would you do or sacrifice to attain ________?
How would you fill in the blanks? You see, it is not what we say we love that is true about our hearts, it's what we do with our lives that determine our heart's passions.
Let’s think about what we are valuing. Are we prioritizing and making adjustments in our lives for our souls? Or are we making changes and sacrifices in our lives for physical and temporal priorities? You know, like image, sports, entertainment and all the other things we believe give us life.
Jesus asks, “What do you benefit…?” by living for those THINGS (gaining the world and its stuff). Ask yourself, “What have I really gained by living for worldly and temporal things?” I believe some of your answers will be as follows: fleeting pleasure, temporary peace, artificial popularity, false self-confidence, lasting regret, nagging guilt, poor self-image, heart hurt, no peace, and loss of joy and passion for life.
Jesus brings us into the light and says, "You must give up your own way (these life-stealing treasures), take up your cross, and follow Me." Emphasis mine.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me when I have allowed my heart to treasure things that bring death and not life. Help me to stop pursuing those things and to pursue You! Thank you for reminding me that only when I give up my life for You, I find lasting and eternal life. Amen!