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"Whoever will save his life — shall lose it; and whoever will lose his life for my sake — shall find it." Matthew 16:25
It would appear that saving one's life would be — to avoid self-denial and sacrifice — and to live to gather as much as possible of the things that give earthly comfort, pleasure, or power. But if this is the motive — the life is really thrown away. That is the deep meaning of our Lord's words. Self-seeking is self-losing! We have not really learned how to live at all — until we have learned to live for Christ. What we keep for ourselves — we lose; it is only what we give away — that we really keep. Selfishness is not only sin; it is also spiritual death.
The way to save one's life, says the Master, is to lose it. Christ Himself lost His life — poured it out in loving self-sacrifice for the good of others. It seemed a waste; but was it a waste? He found it again in greater glory. Paul lost his life for Christ, renounced everything for His sake, suffered everything, and gave his very life at the last; but did he lose anything by his self-sacrifice?
A young girl, beautiful, cultured, honored, with a lovely home and many friends — turned away from ease, refinement, and luxury — and went to teach the freed slaves. She lived among them, and gave out her rich young life in efforts to help them up and save them. One day she sickened and died, and her friends said: "Oh, what a waste of precious life!" But was it a waste?
All who follow Christ truly, make this choice between saving and losing their life — that is, between making self-interest and Christ the motive in living. In following Christ, we may never be called actually to make great sacrifices; but that we are ready to make them, even to the utmost, is implied in our covenant of discipleship. Yet this losing is saving; it is sowing the golden wheat in the ground — losing it for the time — to reap therefrom a rich harvest by-and-by.