Summary: While serving the Lord and walking with Him, we learn a great paradox - genuine gain often comes through loss. We must lose certain things in order to gain what the Lord desires for us.
Loss is Gain
Matthew 16: 24-26
1 Tim.6:6-7 – But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Many in our world today are fixated on material wealth and social status in this life. The majority of their energy is spent trying to obtain more than they currently possess. Paul revealed in the verses I just read that those who walk with God and are content with what He provides have in fact received much. He declared that we had nothing when we were born into this life, and we will be unable to take any of our worldly possessions with us when we die.
It important that we understand the economy of God. His economy does not operate by the same principles that the world’s economy does. The Lord’s economy operates according to His divine precepts. While many fail to understand, in God’s economy gain often comes through loss. Those who are willing to lose what they consider precious and valuable actually gain much from the Lord. His blessings and benefits exceed any this world can provide.
As I pondered this principle, and the convicting words of our Lord, I was reminded of many in the Bible who gained through loss. Abraham was asked to abandon his homeland to follow God unto a land that would be revealed in time. He left with only a promise from God. In His time, and according to His divine plan, God provided much for Abraham. Many of the Old Testament prophets lived lives of ridicule and seclusion, but they enjoyed the blessing of God. The disciples were asked to abandon the lives they had built in order to follow Jesus. One of the greatest examples of gaining through loss was the Apostle Paul. He was a Pharisee with much education and a position of prominence. He had all one could desire from a worldly perspective – wealth, status, prestige, and power. Paul decided to give up all that he had worked to obtain in order to follow Jesus. He had learned that loss was actually gain. Consider his perspective on this matter as he wrote to the Philippian church. Phil.3:7-10 – But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.  Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,  And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.
As we conclude our series on the Paradoxes in the Christian Life, I want to examine the aspects of this final paradox, spoken of Jesus. As we discuss these powerful words, I want to consider the thought: Loss is Gain.
I. The Proposal Extended (24) – Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Following an intimate moment with the disciples, when Jesus questioned them regarding their perception of who He was, He offered this proposal to them. Although these words were spoken to the disciples, there is application for everyone who desires to follow Jesus. Let’s consider the aspects of this proposal. We see:
A. A Conscious Decision – If any man will come after me. There can be no doubt this involves a personal choice and a conscious decision made on the part of the hearer. While it is the desire of Jesus that all would follow Him, as individuals we must make that conscious choice to follow Him. The word will in the text implies “one’s desire, resolve, or determination.”
The world presents many options. We are bombarded with opportunities, and each day is filled with choices. What will we decide? Whom or what will we follow? Where do I our affections lie? What are we seeking in life? These are all questions that must be answered. If we are to follow Jesus, we must make the decision to do so. Our lives are influenced by something or someone. Which path have we chosen in life?
B. A Committed Denial – If any man will come after me, let him deny himself. Jesus revealed the next aspect in serving Him. We must be willing to deny ourselves. These are strong words with even stronger implications. We must be willing to “disown, forsake, reject, or restrain ourselves, basically doing without the desires of the flesh.” We must be willing to subdue our flesh in an effort to follow and please the Lord. It isn’t easy to forsake our desires and restrain the flesh, but it is absolutely necessary if we are to follow Jesus.