When Jesus called the early disciples, He called them to leave behind their own lives and to follow Him. When they heard His voice, they dropped their own plans and dreams to follow Jesus. In many parts of the world, the challenge is the same today which is, to take Jesus as lord and lose your own life and to live the life of a disciple. It’s simply considered part of the cost of discipleship. For example, when I was in India, one of the Bible school students, named Rasheed, who had been a Hindu and was engaged to be married to a Hindu girl in his village. Then, he found a gospel leaflet with the plan of salvation and he gave his heart to Jesus right then. The Holy Spirit began to talk to him about marrying a Hindu girl which led him to try to lead her to Jesus, but the girl refused, so this propelled him to call off the wedding. He found the Scripture that said, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” He had to be obedient so he called off the wedding and that was just the beginning. His boss fired him for becoming a Christian, his brothers beat him as a way to try to get him to disown God. His parents disowned him, his fiancé’s family turned against him and made him leave the village.
They told him never to come back home again and he had tears in his eyes when he told me that it had been four years since he had seen his family. He hoped that one day the Lord would send him a Christian young woman to marry and if not, he would remain single for the remainder of his life. I told him, “Christians in America need a dose of Jesus like you have!” Rasheed smiled and shrugged. “My Lord says, ‘He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.’ (John 12:25). Tell your American Christian friends what Jesus says.” To Rasheed, it would be simple: Just tell American Christians what Jesus said and they would gladly obey! Being saved is so much better than anything this world has to offer…why wouldn’t a Christian forsake all that he or she has for Jesus? What he didn’t realize is how much American Christians love their own lives. See, Rasheed remembered what it was like to live without Jesus so he found it easy to hate his life in this world. He was willing to forsake all that he had…family, friends, possessions, his job, even marriage and children, if that was the price for serving the Lord.
Self-gratification so preoccupies most of us here in America that we’ll never know what it’s like to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus. We don’t forsake anything to serve the Lord and we want to do all that comes into our minds and we want to make as much money as possible and never having anyone, even God, say “no” to us. That’s why we’ll miss out on Bible study with the Lord. We want to eat a full super, then, watch our favorite TV shows, skim a magazine, get on social media, check our phones and maybe even catch up on some news before going to bed. We might read a couple chapters in the Bible, but only if there’s time after we’ve done what we want to do. What about prayer? Who can pray when their favorite TV show’s on, or go to church when there’s a football game premiering? Who will be in the house of the Lord Wednesday evening, if it means they might have to miss dinner? Then, there’s the whole area of fasting. We just don’t do it. Our appetites reign supreme and to miss out on a high fat, overly carbohydrate, salt-soaked meal is unthinkable. Reaching the lost is another are that we need to lose our own lives for. We have out ball games, social outings and other plans, we can’t give financially like we’re commanded to because we love our own lives too much to follow the Lord.
The Lord convicted me of this right before going on the mission field several years ago. I was 23 years old and we had a thriving business with several employees and we just bought a new house, a car and a motorcycle. We had plenty of money and lots of friends and holding bible studies in our home with about 40-50 teens attending every week. Then, God challenged me and my wife to forsake all that we had and go on the mission field. We knew we had to be obedient and our Christian friends all told us that God was blessing us right here in America, so we should stay. I want to tell you, it was a challenge straight from the Lord and nevertheless, let me put it like this: God can take everything that you or I have from us in an instant. Specifically, I could fall off a ladder or wrecked my motorcycle in seconds, then what would be my life? Anything or anyone who comes between us and obedience can be removed from our lives with just a thought from God. What’s it that keeps you from fulling following Jesus? Your love of money? Money isn’t worth loving because you can always make money but you can’t always get a call from God and money is nothing, yet, “the love of money is the root of all evil!” Why? Well, chasing after it can cause you to become dishonest, neglect your family, lie, cheat or even steal. It can make you rob God; his work is hurting but you can’t even give because you love your money too much.
God can make you lose all of it and maybe your looks keep you from serving God, causing vanity. Keep in mind that you can LOSE your looks. Think about it. You can lose your house, job, intellect, job position, friends, family, anything. So, what is there that’s worth losing out with God for? Maybe your love for drugs or alcohol that keeps you from being obedient. If you let any one of these rules your life, soon you’ll definitely hate your life in this world. You say, “God would never take away the things that I love!” He would if that’s what it took to get you to Heaven. He just might pour a little tribulation on you, if you harden your heart and withhold your best affections from Him. Jesus said, Mark 8:35, “Whoever wishes to save his life shall (not “might”) lose it; but whoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” That’s why my wife and I sold our possessions and went overseas and with no salary at all. Sure, we could have kept on making money, lots of it and we could have supported two or three missionaries. Nevertheless, we’d learned to hate our lives out of the will of God. If you love your life so much that you’ll withhold your money, your possessions or yourself from the Lord, you’ll lose all. If you count your life and your little plans as so all important that you will just serve God with your spare time, money and efforts, you’ll never know the joy of the Lord.
All self-seeking is self-losing. All “self-preservation” is self-destruction. What do you have that’s so important as to disobey God for? Listen, it NEVER pays to hold back from the Lord and you’ll lose all those things anyway. The way of the transgressor is hard, seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. God’s a rewarder of those who do diligently seek Him. Whose life are going to choose, your life or His?