Summary: There are tradeoffs in life in general and in spiritual life: A. Some things need to be denied in order for other things to be gained B. Some things need to be lost in order for other things to be found C. Some things need to be carried in order for ot
Is being a Christian supposed to be a joy or a burden? Is being a Christian supposed to be something that brightens our life or weigh us down? Some people think that being a Christian means it creates a heavy burden and weighs them down. I want to show you today that that is not true.
But I can understand why people might think that. Some Christians are weighed down by the duties they think they need to carry out as Christians, that they do seem kind of unhappy about being a Christian.
Another reason people might think it’s a burden to be a Christian are some words that Jesus said.
These are part of what has been called the “hard sayings” of Jesus, … or paradoxical sayings of Jesus - and they are usually related to the idea of being a disciple of Jesus Christ’s. And today we want to look at one of the hardest sayings on discipleship.
Let’s turn to Luke 9:23-26. [Read.]
“Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’”
When most people first read these verses, they are taken aback and make them shrink from wanting to follow Jesus. Yet, I want to explain this passage and show it is not as negative as people might usually think.
What Jesus is saying here can be described in the form of four general principles for life and they all involve what we would call “tradeoffs” – giving up something in order to gain something else.
The first one is that …
II. The Principle of Tradeoffs in Life
A. Some things need to be denied in order for other things to be gained
In this passage Jesus says that we must deny ourselves in order to gain some other things.
What does he mean?
Well, one example is that we have to deny our time to some things in order to gain other things. If you want to pursue a certain career, you have to deny yourself time to be spend on other things in order to devote yourself to the pursuit of that career. You are denying yourself certain other uses of that time, such as traveling the world, or starting a family, or even dating in some cases, in order for you to gain something else.
When Jesus told his disciples that they must deny themselves, he was saying they must deny some thing that are important to them, such as time, such as energy, such as other pursuits, even money, in order to follow him.
That as a disciple of Christ’s, they will need to give up certain things in order to follow him, learn from him, understand him, ask him questions, and other things.
There are some things that we must not do in order to be with him.
Isn’t that true for couples when they date?
When they date, they need to block off that time for other things, in order to spend time with someone else.
Isn’t the same also true for raising kids or for a marriage?
But don’t think only of what is denied – that will only make you feel you are cheated out of something – instead, think of what you are choosing to gain.
You are choosing to gain a wonderful time to get to know your date. You are choosing to spend time with your kids, you are choosing to spend time with your spouse.
You are giving up something, yes, but it is because you think you will obtain something else better to make it worthwhile.
And the same with Jesus Christ. When we give our time to him, when we do certain things with him, that can be seen as not doing something else, and perhaps others will wonder why we are giving that up. But in our mind, we don’t see it as a loss, we see it as a gain. We are gaining a sense of peace, a sense of purpose, a sense of closeness, a sense of wisdom when we spend time with Christ.
There are times when you just can’t have both – doing two things at the same time – like working and going on a date – if you try that, perhaps because you have a lot of work or perhaps you want to spend time with someone, you will wind up not getting much work done and you will not be enjoying your time with that special person. You lose out on both. Whereas if you gave up one - for that time - you will gain something. And then you can come back and take care of the other thing. But one thing at a time, that’s another way for us to put this principle.