And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)
Paul (under the inspiration of God):
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal. 2:20)
- Am I intentional — each day — in cultivating a desire to follow Christ?
- What am I attempting to keep, at the expense of having Christ?
- What am I joyfully losing so I might gain and keep Christ?
- What portion of the world am I seeking at the cost of my soul?
- In what ways am I ashamed of Christ? Since shame means “a painful feeling or a sense of loss of status…,” what do I believe I have lost because of Him? Are there things I am not willing to endure for His sake? (And am I ready to confess these as sin?)
- There is a cost to following Christ; do I grieve over what I have lost in following Him instead of rejoicing in what I have in Him? Or, having counted the cost of following Christ, do I also count the cost of not following Him?
God affirms through the testimony of both His eternal Son, Jesus, and His adopted son, Paul, that there is a cost to following Christ, but that cost is also mitigated by what is received by being a loved son of God. It is better to lose a few treasures on earth and gain Christ than to keep those trinkets and lose Christ.
“Biblical self-denial means, ‘Deny yourselves the lesser joys so you don’t lose the big ones.’ Which is the same as saying: Really pursue joy! Don’t settle for anything less than full and lasting joy.” [John Piper, Desiring God.]
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” [Jim Elliott — actual journal page below]