“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:25-26
A dear friend, mentor and pastor for over 30 years frequently asks me: “Do I hate my life?” Depending on my mood, I answer in a variety of ways. On a bad day, I would say “yes, I hate my life!” or “I despise my very existence.” If in a joking mood I would say “Did you just ask me if I hate my wife?” Either way, it was all good and we still have to this day a lot of fun with this. If we take another look at this simple question, “Do we hate our lives?”; it really is a probing question, in light of, John 12: 25. The question here, is, do we hate our life in this world? In this world, we know there are trials (tests) and tribulation (hardship). There is also a temptation that entices us by our desires and gives birth to sin (James 1: 2-18). Let’s take a look at some of the situations throughout Exodus 16, and John chapters 12 where these desires are at work.
In Exodus 16, we see the congregation of Israel come into the wilderness of Sin. Here there was a food shortage, and the people grumbled against Aaron and Moses. In reality, their problem wasn’t against Aaron and Moses. It was against God. They charged they had it better in Egypt (the land of slavery) than they had it during their journey to the promise land. So, they now blame Aaron and Moses. God sets forth a test and provides manna (bread from heaven). Even with their bellies full, they didn’t follow Moses’ instructions and failed the test. What do we see as the desire of the children of Israel’s hearts? It is to blame others for their condition and situation.
In John chapter 12, we see Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume. Judas Iscariot took issue with this because he said the perfume could be sold and the money given to the poor. The text makes two things clear. First, he was a thief. And second, he didn’t care anything about the poor. So, what was the desire of Judas’ heart? It was to look good, but, in actuality, he was faking his intentions.
We see again in chapter 12, where the chief priests are making plans to put Lazarus to death. They had already made up their minds to put Jesus to death and even tried to stone him at the end of John chapter 8. What were these guys thinking? Didn’t they realize that Jesus could raise him again a thousand times? I believe when Jesus called Lazarus from the grave, he said “Lazarus” come out! Had he not said his name first, all the graves would have been emptied that very second! I think we can say here that envy and murder were the desires of the chief priest’s hearts.
Both Exodus 16 and John 12 shows us the sinfulness of the human heart. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we can relate to the children of Israel, Judas Iscariot and the priest at some time in our lives. Maybe even today we blame someone else for our situation? We’ve grumbled? Had a hateful thought? This brings us to the need we have for the gospel. The transforming power of the gospel can take a grumbling heart and make it thankful. The Gospel can take a thief and make him into a giver and take an envious murderer and transform him into a humble and loving servant. The finished work on the cross reconciles us with God and gives us eternal life. So, what the world has to offer compared to what Jesus offers makes hating our lives in this world easier.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10