He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:25-26)
At some point in the believer’s life, he comes to this passage and assesses himself by trying to determine if he loves or hates his life. Many may conclude that those who hate their lives can only accomplish this by denying themselves of any desires and live lives of abasement and self denial. Although this view may seem accurate, it is similar to living life much like the Pharisees did. In their own eyes, these individuals never seem to reach the satisfactory level of hating their own lives. They constantly seek for and add new regulatory guidelines for living the “hated” or “denied” life.
Thankfully, The Lord has made a life that pleases him much more easily attained and enjoyable. Jesus simply defines the life he desires by saying, “Let him follow me.” So before breaking out your spiritual scourging instrument and beating yourself into subjection and self denial, ask yourself, “Do I want to walk with Jesus today and am I willing to follow him where he leads me?” If your answer is yes, God is pleased. If your answer is no, he wants you to know that you will not gain what you seek and will lose whatever joy you already have.
It is understood that there will be people who are deceived in their hearts about their answers, but God is able to deal with their deception by bringing needed truth to their hearts. Until he does, our efforts of setting them straight will be of no avail. If your life is like most Christians, you may vacillate in your position as you live throughout the day. If you find yourself walking away from The Lord and seeking your own will, desires or gain, confess your fault to The Lord, believe he has forgiven you and begin following him from that point on.
Jesus came to give us life that is more abundant and free. When you are following him, you will experience the joy that comes with it. If you are not experiencing his joy, something is drastically wrong. I am not saying that circumstances in life that may result from following him will always be easy or pleasant, but you should be experiencing the joy of The Lord and the sweetness of his presence.