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Even though many Christians today ignore them, Jesus taught us very simply the prerequisites for following Him:

Matthew 16:24–26 (NKJV) “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The key to following Jesus is the wholesale denial of self. Without this fundamental decision, you’re not following Him. The denial of self equals “loss.” That’s how serious it really is.

The Greek word for deny here (aparnesastho) means to disown, abandon, disregard, forsake, renounce, reject, refuse, and do without.” Those are descriptive words of precisely what it looks like to deny yourself in order to follow Jesus. Let those words sink in a little before moving on. (disown, abandon, disregard, forsake, renounce, reject, refuse, and do without)

Jesus is not referencing the denial of ‘something’ but rather the denial of “all,” starting with ourselves. Someone once said, “The person who abandons this life—who sacrifices and gives all that he is and has for Christ—shall save his life. But the person who keeps his life and what he has and seeks more and more of this life shall lose his life completely and eternally.”

As born again believer, you’re not in charge anymore. Your life is now hidden in Christ. Your priorities have become His priorities. As John Wimber (Founder of the Vineyard Church movement) liked to say, “I’m just a coin in the Master’s pocket. He can spend me how he sees fit.” Can I repeat it? You’re not in charge anymore. You’re under Jesus and His absolute authority over your life.

Matthew 6:33–34 (NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

In Genesis, as we follow the life of Abraham, we watch him lose so much personally to follow God powerfully. Abraham loses his homeland, his family, his nephew Lot, Lot’s family, his beloved son Ishmael, and even in his heart, he loses his son Isaac. Then in Genesis 23, Abraham loses his beloved wife, Sarah.

Loss is a part of the life of the believer. 

Learning from the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul said, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7). The only way to know and experience Him is through our response of self-denial. Living this out will involve much personal loss. But keep in mind–the reward far outweighs those losses. Eternal life is incomparably infinitely better than anything this world can offer.

It’s essential to put the things of this world in their proper place and learn to find your true worth in Him alone. In Jesus, you will find everything; He is our hope, joy, and fulfillment. Denying yourself for His sake is always worth it. When we lay down our lives for Christ, He will give us life and fill us with His peace and joy.

So embrace the cross of Jesus today; accept its loss and follow Him wholeheartedly in all aspects of your life. Let go of the world’s fleeting things and find strength in Him.

Jesus will never abandon you in your loss.

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