“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” John 12:23-25
Jesus speaks first about the necessity of His own death but then He alludes to the necessity of ours. If Jesus chooses to preserve His life, He can’t save us. If we choose to live protecting ourselves, we can’t bear fruit as Christians. What does death to self look like?
First, we must die to our plans. Proverbs 16:9 says: “Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” We are not discouraged from making plans, but only from clinging to them. Make a plan, give it to God, and then plan on the original plan changing to conform to God’s purpose. If our identity is in our plan, we will find ourselves continually disappointed and disillusioned when they don’t work out exactly how we thought.
We began a Sunday night service several years ago because we were having to turn people away from overcrowded nurseries in the morning services. Our plan didn’t work because we couldn’t get families to change to Sunday night, so we ended up solving the Sunday morning problem in another way. But in the process, we recognized God had a different purpose for Sunday nights. It has become the service of choice for many who want more and appreciate the culture of waiting on God at the altar since no one has to pick up their kids.
A second area we need to die to is our property or wealth. Jesus answered the rich young ruler’s question about eternal life by telling him to sell everything and give to the poor, and to then, follow Him. He went away sad because he owned much property (one translation: “had great wealth”). The Lord impressed on my wife during a retreat we took, that her great wealth was her children and their unmet needs were what was making her sad. Jesus invited her to really let go of her “great wealth” by giving her children completely to Him, so she could follow Him without sadness anymore.
What’s your great wealth? What’s holding you back from complete abandonment to God? The reason why God pries things out of our hands is so that we will be open to receive all He has for us. He is not against us owning property, but He insists that our property doesn’t own us!