Summary: The key to happiness is not to hold on, but to let go, of life and let Jesus take over.
Lose your life and Win
July 9, 2005
Can you hold on and lose what you’re trying to hold? Can it slip away from you, even while you hold on harder? Can you let go and win what it is you want to hold onto?
According to Jesus, the answer is ‘yes’ to each of these questions, and the wisdom of Christ is, once again, counter to the normal wisdom of humanity surrounding Him 2000 years ago, or of humanity surrounding Him today- here, today.
Please turn to Mark 8.34-35. What unusual ideas are here presented by Jesus! Imagine the idea of denying the self- that is incredibly counter-cultural today, for certain. We live in an age and time when we are urged to give full vent to our needs and desires and to deny ourselves nothing. We can have whatever we want, if we can get the credit to do it, and we can pay for it for the rest of our lives, and even after our deaths, through the estate’s settling of any outstanding debts. Jesus tells us that if we want to save our lives, we’re going to lose, but if we lose our lives, we’re going to win them. What is this all about? What is Jesus on about here?
These are very difficult ideas, yet, for us, the whole point is to understand what Jesus said, and continues to say, and to figure out how to apply this to our lives today. Scripture is very practical- sometimes it’s not all that easy to understand the practical side of it, but that’s the quest we’re on and the thrust of our study of the written Word, as the Spirit brings us to further understanding.
Imagine that you are to lose to win, and if you try to win, you’ll lose. This sounds so very opposite to what we’re taught in games. Oh, sometimes, we can hear our mothers’ voices, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game, that counts.” I can hear mine saying that. But, we all know that, deep down, we know that it’s all about winning. We don’t like to lose at spoons. We don’t like to lose at Monopoly. We don’t like to lose at soccer, volleyball, tennis, or softball at camp. We want to win, and if we lose, we tend to feel a little diminished. We don’t go away feeling as good as if we went away as winners. It seems to be built into us.
Because it is so built in, Jesus’ words jump out at us all the more. To win, we have to be prepared to let go and to lose something. Jesus tells us to be prepared to lose our life for His sake and the gospel’s sake, and we will save it, as the result.
Winning and losing has everything to do with how we see ourselves- and it has to do with the subject of humility and pride. We have heard the saying, “Pride goes before a fall,” which is a biblical truth (Prov.16.18). We have heard about the need to be humble- for instance, “humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time’ (1 Pet.5.6). This is hard for us, who are educated to get ahead by our own energy and accomplishment. However, scripture DOES give us a different perspective.
How about what we’re told, as far as how to present our lives to God?
Ro.12.1- we’re to be living sacrifices. We’re to live sacrificially. This is difficult, indeed, but is the call to us. Living sacrificially means that we give up something- we give up us- all of us. We’re willing to lay it on the altar. Like the ancient animal sacrifices, which were total, we are so willing. We are willing to give up anything and everything in order to be where and as God wants us to be and in order to reflect Jesus in all areas of our lives.
However, we like to hold on and not let go. We give ourselves, then take ourselves back again- or take back part of ourselves again, which is the same thing as taking back all.
Let’s think of some situations in which we can hold on to something and in which we can lose by the holding on.
1. What about a woman who has been hurt by a man or men and who says that she’ll never allow herself to get close to a man again? Some do this. Some have been horribly abused physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Are these women to give up and give in and simply go around with a load of anger, bitterness, animosity, loneliness, and guilt for all their lives? No! But some do. They hold on and build their identity in what happened in the past. They will go forward as if nothing can change. But what is the answer? Rev.3.20- notice what Jesus say. Notice what He speaks into the situation. Notice how willing he is to enter, but he waits for the person- the hurt person- to allow him in to heal and change the situation.