Matthew 16:24-26 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” NIV
These comments and questions come right after Peter had declared Jesus to be “the Christ (Messiah), son of the living God” and then proceeded to tell Jesus how he was not going to accomplish His mission of dying for our sins and then being raised on the third day. This is an interesting contrast. On one hand Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, and on the other he tells Jesus how to do His job! However, I find myself in this position at times. I firmly believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and yet I often want Him to do things my way. I want Him to follow my lead instead of me following His lead.
Jesus had some pretty firm words to those first disciples. If they were going to follow Him, they were to count the cost and follow Him. He did promise them a reward for doing so. They would find life (soul). He then challenges them about the value of trading their soul for material things or some other reward. Unfortunately, it’s been my observation that people do trade their soul or soul’s health for material possessions, power, influence, and lust.
The questions that I need to ask myself: When do I tend to tell God how to do His job? What are the times in my life when I am tempted to trade following Jesus and my soul’s health for something else? What is my biggest temptation? How can I best deal with that temptation?