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HAVE YOU LOST YOUR LIFE
by Philip Owen

       “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25).   The gospel is full of paradoxes, for the ways of the Lord are not the ways of the flesh.  Indeed, a man’s initial faith in Christ unto salvation is a denial of the flesh—a denial of its ways, its strengths, its means, and its ends.  Were we to cling to the flesh for salvation, we would go to our graves lost, undone, unregenerate.  But, by faith, we are crucified with Christ; nevertheless, we live.

         But this same principle of losing our lives in order to save them holds true throughout our Christian lives.  It is not those who set about seeking a name for themselves who achieve spiritual success.  Rather, it is those who lose themselves.  The eleventh chapter of Hebrews, our catalogue of faith, brims with names of those who “lost” their lives for the sake of the gospel.  Abel is the first man who is mentioned, and what did he do?  He raised sheep and offered a blood sacrifice.  Hardly noteworthy—not something that would qualify one for the Hall of Fame.  Nevertheless, he obediently served the Lord and, therefore, deserved this testimony:  “though he is dead, he still speaks” (Heb. 11:4b).

         The second name listed in Hebrews provides, if possible, an even more striking example.  Enoch’s entire history is recorded in four short verses in Genesis:  “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.  Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.  So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.  Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (5:21-24).  Not much of a biography for three hundred sixty-five years of life.  Enoch would never have qualified for a single line in Who’s Who.  He raised sons and daughters, and he walked with God.  But we should not be deceived by the perceptions of the flesh.  The Lord was impressed—so impressed that “Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up” (Heb. 11:5a).  If we would only be Enochs, if we would only stop attempting to be seen, to do impressive things, or to gain the plaudits of the world, we would rejoice the heart of Christ, accomplish blessed things for the Lord, and heap to ourselves untold blessings.  It is only when our fleshly will becomes involved that we get into trouble.  What was the key to Enoch’s success?  “He obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (v. 5b).  What a simple, yet profound, truth.  Would that we might all come to a full realization of the nature of that truth.  It is the way of the flesh to seek to accomplish great things; it is the way of the world to attempt to acquire a name for oneself.  But the truth is that he who would gain his life must lose it.

         Why is Rahab remembered in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews?  Is it because she had a long life glowing with great accomplishments?  Was she a Clara Barton, an Elizabeth I, a Marie Curie, or a Jane Austen?  No, her claim to glory in the Lord’s eyes is that she “had welcomed the spies in peace” (v. 31b).  Not much of a biographical sketch.  Not too impressive.  Only enough to be recorded in the eternal Word of God.  Only enough to be preached throughout the ages.  Only enough to provide a gloriously sweet savor in the Lord’s nostrils.  And only enough to be included in the lineage that produced the Christ.

                  You see, the Lord is not looking for impressive men and women.  The world can offer those by the bushel—great athletes, great writers, great industrialists, great politicians, great generals.  The Lord is looking for simple, meek, genuine, consistent faithfulness and obedience.  Do your job, raise your family, but walk with God as you do it.  Peace and joy will attend your way.  And a conqueror’s crown will festoon your brow.  Leave the impressive acts to the Goliaths of this world.  One little prayer and one little stone in the right hand can change the course of the world.  It begin with losing your life. 

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