Recently a friend attended a gathering where the majority of the people had spent years sacrificing, working hard, and saving so they could spend their later years at ease in a warmer climate. For most of their lives they were “dying to live”—longing for the day they could fully experience the rewards this world has to offer.
Enjoying the fruit of their labors is no crime, but my friend observed that the living they experienced was less satisfying than they expected. All the shuffle board, fine dining, and golf in the world doesn’t come close to what Jesus defines as living or desires for us in life.
God created us for relationship with Himself, and without Him, nothing in this life can fill the void in our souls (Colossians 1:16b; 2:9-10) that only life with Him can.
Dying to live in the biblical sense has a meaning quite different from what the world maintains. According to Jesus, dying is not intense longing for but intentional abandonment of our self-indulgent, self-directed life in favor of a Savior dependent life. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) The path to lasting and fulfilling life which God desires for us requires death to self.
Death to self doesn’t sound fun. So why would we do that? Jesus has a good answer: “For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” (Luke 9:24) Preserving our self-indulgent life (“save it”) brings immediate reward but eternal ruin (“shall lose it”). Parting with self-directed living in favor of Savior-dependent living (“for My sake”) may bring what seems like immediate ruin because our selfish desires are restrained by obedience to Christ. But the reward is eternal life.
We are all “dying to live” either by striving now in our own power to find the elusive ingredient to meaningful existence, or as those surrendered to the Savior having entered into and seeking to fully enjoy eternal life now and forever.
Jesus’ summary provides a compelling reason for dying to our sinful self-directed life and depending upon Him to give us eternal life. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25)
If we save our life to gain the world, we lose both. If we lose our life to follow Christ, we gain both.