Life is a battle of choices. We not only have to choose what to do, but what not to do. We know that in order to say yes to one thing you have to say no to another, but even that is an understatement. Especially in America, where we have an incredible amount of freedom and potential to pursue different paths, in order to reach one goal you have to refuse a thousand others.
Ask a kid what he wants to be when he grows up, and he may respond with twenty different professions (e.g. an astronaut, fireman, athlete, actor, musician, doctor, etc.). And though a parent may be really excited to hear their child aspiring for success in so many areas, the reality is that in order for a child to become successful in one of those areas they’ll need to shut down just about all of the others.
This is hard to hear in our culture. Limitations almost always carry a negative connotation. This is one of the greatest reasons people don’t want God. Following Christ isn’t appealing because it’s limiting.
They say, "What about all the things I want that God will tell me I can’t have?" Well, there's a problem with that question. The assumption behind the question is that something must be bad if it keeps you from what you want. The thing is, no one ever gets to make a decision in complete alignment with all of their desires.
What happens when you want to eat junk food but at the same time want to be healthy? One want is going to have to be chosen at the cost of the other. So in order to make decisions you need to choose which option is more valuable.
This is the way we should approach the decision to follow Christ. The question to ask is not what you have to give up, but more importantly what you have to gain. When Christ asks us to follow Him, it’s not about how restricting that decision is but how rewarding that decision will be.
In Matthew 19, a wealthy man was challenged to give up all of his possessions to follow Christ, yet he refused and walked away sorrowing. Immediately afterward, Peter asks what is in store for those who have left everything to follow Christ. In other words, "What did that wealthy man miss out on?"
Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you… everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." (Matt. 19:28-29)
Yeah, don’t miss that. Jesus just said whatever is given up for Him will be returned "a hundredfold". This is not to say that you can put $10 into the offering plate and expect $1,000 back next month, but we can know that no matter what is given to God, the return is absent of regret.
In some places, a person may be forsaken by their family for deciding to follow Christ, but that believer will be received by their newfound family in Christ. A person may lose their friends, yet in Christ gain the closest friend of all. Whatever is lost to follow Christ is gained in Christ in much greater ways. Whatever desire you have, it’s best met in Christ.
This is not just a comfort for unbelievers as they seek new life in Christ, but also a continual comfort to believers who face the every-day decision to deny themselves and follow Him. What an encouragement for anyone, no matter what their other options are, to choose Christ.
The world and our flesh will always want to make life apart from God look best, but living for Christ is better. And not just a little bit better, it's a hundred times better. What an incredible thought! When you see how much better God is, instead of being enticed away from God, you are pushed toward Him. Even natural longings for love and security in friends and family can happily be forsaken in order to find the One who will meet those longings in much deeper and lasting ways.
Remember, the greatest fulfillment in life comes from following Christ. Nothing is worth holding onto at the cost of Christ. Any sacrifice for His sake is worth it.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)
Garrett Martin is completing his school of religion undergrad degree in Bible this year at Bob Jones University. He is very involved with teen and college ministries at his local church in Simpsonville, SC and has recently served as a church intern in Denver, CO. Garrett co-authors the blog Worthy Words with Robert Horn. We hope you check it out!
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