What Will You Give for Your Life?
JESUS said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and follow me continually. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? or what will a man give in exchange for his life?”—Matt. 16:24-26, NW, margin.
How many persons disown themselves by dedicating their lives to God? To Christians the apostle Paul wrote: “You do not belong to yourselves, for you were bought with a price.” And again: “You were bought with a price; stop becoming slaves of men.” How many who claim to be Christian disown themselves to be a slave of God? Do very many give up their pleasures and desires and turn themselves over to God for the doing of his will, as Christ Jesus did? Do many follow in the footsteps of Jesus, disowning themselves continually to follow Jesus continually? Very few really do that. There may be a rush to join churches in Christendom, but there is no rush to disown themselves.—1 Cor. 6:19, 20; 7:23, NW.
To be a slave of God can be dangerous. It will bring on persecution. It may mean your death, just as it did for Jesus. But to lose this short life because of faithfulness to Jehovah will enable you to find everlasting life. However, those who try hard to save this life, never endangering it in Jehovah’s service, will lose it because of their unfaithfulness. It is the ones who jeopardize their lives and everything else, who withhold nothing, that will gain eternal life in the new world of righteousness.
Do you want riches, wealth, position, comforts? Maybe you gain everything, all that this world has to offer in the way of material benefits and fleshly pleasures. Yet what will it benefit you if in gaining these things you lose your life, because you neglected Jehovah’s service? How can you continue to enjoy what you have acquired, if your life slips from you? Your fine home will not fit in your coffin, your shiny car will not follow you to your grave, you cannot watch television there.
“What will a man give in exchange for his life?” Everything, you say. But how many give everything? How many give anything? How many have any time for God, to study his Word, to practice its principles when it inconveniences them? How many give up their will to do God’s will? How many disown themselves, really? Very very few, comparatively speaking. Right now instead of giving everything for their life they give nothing.
It is not a question of what will you give to keep your life when it is slipping from you, but what will you give to keep it while you still seem to have it held fast. When your life seems safe the inclination is to give very little for it, to take it for granted, not to look forward to the time when it will end. Some dedicated Christians will not give any mental energy for study, or any physical energy to go from house to house preaching, or any time to analyzing their course to see where they fall short.
Or some may study a little, go to meetings spasmodically, and witness some to Jehovah’s name during the month. Why do more? they think. Why give more for their life? Is not that enough? Is not that as much as many others are doing? Why work full time at a branch office, or do missionary work in a foreign land, or preach full time in home territory? Why do so much when the majority do much less, and yet will gain life in the new world?
In that way some try to justify doing only a little when their circumstances would allow them to do much more. They say they would give everything for their life, but they do not want to give any more than is absolutely necessary. They reason that they will give enough, but that is all. They will get by with the others, will give what the majority gives, and that will be sufficient. Let a few do the bulk of the witnessing work, carry the greater part of the load, while they inwardly reason: “What will I give for my life? Just enough to keep it. Just as little as will suffice to see me through and into Jehovah’s promised new world.” That is what they think now, while they are still living in health with prospects of some years to live.
But when the time of our death comes what would we give? What do we think then? Do we think we could have done more, wish we had given more, to be sure that God will count it enough and remember us in the resurrection? Do we wish we had not calculated quite so close? Do we regret that we doled out our service so sparingly, just enough to get by, and now wonder whether it is enough to get us by? Now that we are on our deathbed, what would we give for our life? Everything, now that it is slipping from us. But now we have nothing to give. When we had life and felt secure in its possession we sowed sparingly, calculatingly, giving only what we considered enough to get by, withholding all that we felt could be safely withheld, and now we feel anguished concern over the possibility that we shaved it a little too thin, now that our life’s breath slips from us and we wonder whether it will ever be returned to us. Is that the way we shall feel on our deathbed?
It should not be that way, and it will not if we disown ourselves and live up to our dedication to do Jehovah’s will. If you are given a car, but then the giver keeps using it for himself, it is not much of a gift, is it? If you give your life to God, but use it for your own purposes instead of for his, it is not much of a dedication, is it? And if you buy the car you certainly expect to have it delivered over to you for your use, yet many who are bought with the blood of Jesus to be slaves of God still hold off from serving God because they want to do their own will. Those who steadfastly refuse to disown themselves do not belong to God in actuality.
What will you give for your life? Money is not enough. You must be willing to lose your life for Christ Jesus’ sake. Then you will find it everlastingly.