“Then Jesus told his disciples, “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; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24).
Often we go to great lengths to preserve ourselves from danger, persecution and suffering. Just so I am understood, I am not referring to the prudent care of our bodies and acting as good stewards of what God has given us. What weighs heavy on my heart is avoiding being fully obedient to the clear commands of Scripture in order to protect ourselves from ‘what might happen,’ even death.
Listen to the comment on those who “accepted” death rather than compromise their faith and love for God. “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated--of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:35–38).
These are the “great…cloud of witnesses” who cheer us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (12:1-2). For Old Testament saints, it was their faith in God who revealed Himself to them that was their motivation. For us, it must be a deep love for Jesus and all He stands for. What will you do with your life?