1 Samuel 7-9 Luke 9:18-36
“Jesus said to all of them, ‘If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life.’” (Luke 9:23-24 NCV)
There are those who think how wonderful it would have been to walk with Jesus back in those days. They imagine listening to His teaching and seeing Him confound the Pharisees. What they forget is that Jesus destroyed the preconceptions of His followers as well. They knew He was the Messiah – they had cleared up any questions on that issue. Then Jesus whacked them over their heads with the message that He would suffer and be executed by the Jewish leaders. Then, in true sucker punch fashion He let them know that all those perks they thought they’d get for following the Messiah – they needed to be given up. And then things got real: anything that they thought they wanted, including life itself needed to be surrendered to God. Let it go. If you want to think about following Jesus, you’d better take that admonition into account. There’s a benefit, though. Following Jesus gives you true life, life with God.
The relationship between God and His people is often compared to a marriage. The church is the bride of Christ, for example. When a man marries a woman, he is to leave all others behind and cling only to his wife. There are a lot of females in this world. Some will promise you nothing but happiness – although that usually comes at a cost. Some males will use them to gain momentary pleasure – but that feeling will go away before they leave the room. When I married my wife, I gave up any thought of being with other women. I took her for better or worse, just as she took me. Together we’ve focused on growing in God’s grace. We’ve had bumps and potholes in the road of life, but this is true life for a married couple. In the same way, when I turned to Jesus long ago, I gave up all my other desires to follow Him. I had dreams and plans. I was in college, so I didn’t have much in the way of material goods. All those went by the wayside because of the joy of knowing Jesus and walking with Him daily. As I look back on my life, I think of all the things I didn’t have and the life that could have been – and I don’t miss them one bit. Paul described what this verse means a little differently, but it’s accurate: For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I never think about what I’ve given up because life with Jesus is nothing but win.
Lord, thank You for the grace that allows me to live for You and with You. Life with You is so great that I don’t even think about what I’ve given up. The joy of knowing You and the hope of heaven is much more joy than anything this world has to offer.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.