Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26 NIV
The Bible contrasts the difference between those bound by religion and tradition – who put their trust in their own efforts – and those who trust in God alone. The Lord has reached out to us with life and liberty – if we will lay down our (lower) life, we can take up His (higher) life.
Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20 NIV
If we read the whole of the word of God in context, we will see that it is the blessed of God who are not poor. Every one who willingly obeys God eats of the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19). Every one who serves God with their whole heart is blessed and prosperous (Joshua 1:8). Wealth and riches are in the house of the righteous (Psalms 112:3). “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” means that we need to recognize that we are nothing without Jesus.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Luke 6:24 NIV
If we think that we don’t need Jesus – we are wrong. If we think that we can earn our salvation – we are very wrong. We need Him! In Him we live and move and have our being. Those who think that they don’t need Jesus, have all the blessings they are ever going to have. Earth is the only heaven a sinner will ever know and the only hell the child of God will ever know!
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 6:21 NIV
Revelations 3:17 NIV says, “You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” We need to be hungry for God. We need to recognize that we need Him. We cannot afford to be self-confident or self-sufficient. God is our source and our supply. We need to recognize Him as our all-in-all. We need to be prepared to weep – to give Him our best – to commit to Him no matter what it takes – no matter what we have to lay down. We need to be willing to lay everything down for Him.
Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. Luke 6:25 NIV
If we put our needs above His – if we think of ourselves first and take care of ourselves first – we will be found lacking.
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. Luke 6:22-23 NIV
Those who stand up to be counted as a child of God, those who preach the unadulterated word of God and those who will contend for the supernatural will be persecuted. However, it is not something to be sad about, but to rejoice about. We are not being treated any differently than our Lord and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets. Luke 6:26 NIV
You can be religious and you can try to please people and tickle their ears and they will speak well of you, but it is nothing to be proud of. The fact that people like you is no indication that God is pleased with you as well. On the contrary, if you will please God and not man, the devil is sure to stir up people against you to oppose you. Rejoice if you are being persecuted for the word’s sake – it means that you are on the right track!