Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it.

Mark 8:34–9:1

“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it.” (Mark 8:35)

Jesus’ words about saving and losing our lives would inspire only fear in us if all we looked at were pain and loss. Praise God, then, that he wants to open our eyes to see a fuller picture of his plan of sal­vation. Jesus didn’t die just so we would lose our old lives. He died so that we could receive his risen life! We can look upon the cross with awe, wonder, and anticipation of the good things God promises. Because Jesus died on the cross, our hearts can be cleansed and our minds made anew.

Jesus invites us to new life,
 not just in heaven someday, but here and now. We can exhaust ourselves by giving in to fallen desires and chasing the things of this world. But if we do, we risk losing the treasure of the life God intended for us. As we come to “deny” ourselves and turn our lives over to Jesus, we are given a new and better existence.

Jesus isn’t asking us to deny our­selves every pleasure—that’s not the point. He wants us to deny the sinful drives within us that seek to control our lives. He wants us to turn our hearts to God so that the Holy Spirit can empower us to live according to the new life we received at baptism. Independence, unforgiveness, legalism, worldly approval, self-glorification, perfec­tionism: They only lead to unhappi­ness. These are the things that Jesus came to put to death in us.

Yes, there is loss through the cross. But what do we lose? Slavery to sin. And what do we gain? A cleansed conscience, freedom from patterns of sin, intimacy with God, and a rediscovery of who we are in God’s sight! Jesus longs to see us stop thinking we must gain vic­tory on our own over the things that threaten our spiritual well-being. He longs to see us surrender our self-sufficiency so that we can receive the power of his Spirit to live a new life. Let’s look to him for our heal­ing and deliverance.

“Father, show me what I must lay down at the foot of the cross so that I can become the person you intended me to be. I want to trust Jesus’ promise that whoever loses his life will save it.”

James 2:14-24, 26; Psalm 112:1-6

The Word Among Us

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