Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?
Three guidelines from these verses summarize the view from the cross, which we must adopt to counteract the self-centered worldview promoted by the god of this world.
First, we must sacrifice the lower life to gain the higher life. If you want to save your natural life (i.e., find your identity and sense of self-worth in positions, titles, accomplishments and possessions and seek only worldly well-being), you will lose it. At best you can only possess these temporal values for a lifetime, only to lose everything for eternity.
Furthermore, in all your efforts to possess these earthly treasures, you will fail to gain all that can be yours in Christ. Shoot for this world and that's all you'll get, and eventually you will lose even that. But shoot for the next world and God will throw in the benefits of knowing Him in this present life as well. Paul put it this way: "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7, 8).
Second, sacrifice the pleasure of things to gain the pleasure of life. What would you accept in trade for the fruit of the Spirit in your life? What material possession, what amount of money, what position or title would you exchange for the love, joy, peace and patience that you enjoy in Christ? "Nothing," we all probably agree. Victory over self comes as we learn to love people and use things instead of using people and loving things.
Third, sacrifice the temporal to gain the eternal. Possibly the greatest sign of spiritual maturity is the ability to postpone rewards. It is far better to know that we are the children of God than to gain anything that the world calls valuable. Even if following Christ results in hardships in this life, He will make it right in eternity.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You alone are God. Help me to choose the higher life today instead of seeking the pleasures of this world.