Today’s Scripture: And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. Mark¬†8:34-38

We often hear Mark 8:36-37 in relation to salvation, and it does illustrate a point. If a soul is lost, it doesn’t matter how much they gain here on earth because it won’t matter. No amount of wealth, power, or fame will be able to save you from Hell. Nothing we could ever gain could ever be given in exchange for our salvation. Only belief in Christ’s payment for our sins can save.

However, as accurate as this application is, this is not the point Jesus was making when He said it. This is right in the middle of a call for the saved to serve. Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” He was talking to a group of people and his disciples just after Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ. They had recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and then Christ presented them with a call to serve.

In this call to serve, Jesus told what it would take to serve. Salvation is free apart from any works. Over and over in scripture this is clear: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31) Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John¬†3:16) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us. (Titus 3:5) However, service requires much sacrifice. Christ tells them that they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. If we try to save our life, we will lose it, but if we lose our life for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s, we will save it.

What will we lose if we try to save our life? Not eternal life! That has been promised, and we can never lose it. In verse 38, Christ says that He will be ashamed of us when we go to heaven if we don’t follow Him. Instead, we will lose our earthly life. How will we lose our life? Our life will not be what God wants it to be, and so we will not have the blessings God wants to give us. Also, our life will be a waste because it was not spent following God. All throughout eternity, we will know that we wasted our lives with things that didn’t matter.

The only life that will be worthwhile is a life that is lived for God. All of the deeds we do will be judged, but only the things that were done for eternity will survive. Any temporal pursuits we have are exactly that – temporary. In the long run, they won’t matter. Do you want to stand before God knowing you wasted your life following wealth, power, or fame that won’t matter a bit to God? Let’s make sure our lives have some eternal substance and not disappoint the One who died for us.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder