Christians live in a paradox: We give up our lives in order to truly receive life. Ostensibly, this may seem strange and counterintuitive to those gazing in from the outside, but the reality is that while we bid others to come and die, we are at the same time bidding them to come and live.
We get what our deepest desires yearn for precisely by passing up what our flesh craves. In other words, by giving up smaller satisfactions, we end up gaining much greater rewards. For each sacrifice we make we are given by God something much greater in return, something we could never earn and something better than we could ever imagine.
We were bought with the price of blood and therefore we are not our own, and while Jesus bids all people to come and see, at some point he bids them to go and die.
So what do Christians give up?
#1 – Give up the rights to your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
God is either honored or profaned by how we use our bodies. The question is this:
Will I serve my body (that does not belong to me)?
Or will I use my body to serve God (who has rightful claim over my body)?
When we serve our flesh we are living in a mode that is hostile to the Spirit of God, but if we live according to the Spirit then we inherit blessing that is not only beneficial to us now, but for everyone who is impacted by our presence.
#2 – Give up the rights to your mind (2 Corinthians 10:5-6).
We are charged with taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. Our minds wield striking power and in order to honor God we must let him renew our minds without exception. We must think as Christ thought, and we must put into effect Paul’s exhortation to set our minds on heavenly things. Because it’s those who place their minds on things above who have the most impact here on earth, and those who have mastery over their thoughts live out of a posture of healthy leadership and blessing toward others.
#3 – Give up the rights to your heart (Jeremiah 17:9).
Our hearts are little darkened idol factories that stray us away from our first love. We must not love anyone or anything more than Christ, otherwise we cannot be his disciple. If the answer to the question “Who and what are you living for?” is not clearly “Jesus” then our hearts are divided and we are not truly believing in Him.
Our first and greatest passion must be Jesus, and our first relationship must be between us and God. I fear this is where so many will fall short. While so many know the right things about Jesus and may even believe them, their hearts have failed to connect with Jesus and he will say to them, dreadfully, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21).
#4 – Give up the rights to your namesake (John 3:30).
Naturally we want to be worshiped.
We want others to love us.
We love being liked and we hate it when others disagree with us.
We want our name to be exalted and esteemed, acclaimed and celebrated.
We want to live impressive lives so that we’ll be respected in our towns by those we think are important.
But it is not our name that we must lift high. It is the name of Jesus that must increase in our lives while ours must be put to death. In as much as he lives in us his name will be celebrated and proclaimed with our lips, and a high view of self only fosters a low view of Savior. Our names will not be remembered, but the name of Jesus will be worshiped forever.
#5 – Give up the right to follow your dreams (Philippians 1:21).
We’re in hot pursuit of making our dreams come true. Too often we’re dizzy-eyed for marriage, kids, houses, and jobs, but these pale in comparison to the eternal treasures that are found in Jesus. He is our dream.
We must dream of how we’ll serve him and love him.
We must dream about inviting others to know him.
We must dream about being with him and being fully known by him.
We must dream about the day he will make all things new and gather those who belong to him.
He is our dream because he is our treasure and our reward. He is our dream because nothing else to us is more valuable or irreplaceable.
The paradox now is this: For each thing we are giving up, we will receive much greater rewards in return.
A new body will be ours, one not perishable but imperishable.
A new mind will be ours, one with no temptation but perfect clarity and purity.
A new heart will be given to us, one perfectly in love with God, and from it will flow inexpressible joy and fullness.
A new name we will worship, one worthy of the greatest praise from everything in creation.
And at last a new dream will be realized: God’s plan to renew everything under his creation and reconcile everything back to him. It is a day where God and his people will live perfectly in tune with each other in a beautiful harmonic relationship that will radiate arresting love and joy. God will have perfect rule over his people. And finally he will be ours and we will be his.