The natural order of our world teaches us that life always precedes death. It’s a simple, familiar rhythm: You’re born, you live and then you die. Maybe that’s why we find Jesus’ inversion of this order so hard to grasp. The gospel introduces a spiritual order in which death always precedes life. Jesus had to die so that we could be born again. We’re born spiritually dead and receive a life that will never be extinguished. Something new always requires the death of something old.
This inverted rhythm doesn’t just define our salvation. It’s also the roadmap for our growth in Christlikeness. Here’s how Jesus says it in John’s gospel, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 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 12:24-26) It’s an amazing principle – in order to bear much fruit, we need to die to ourselves. The path to greatness in the Kingdom of God is marked by service, surrender and sacrifice.
Fruitfulness increases through more dying not more trying.
What in you needs to die so that your life can bear even more fruit? Maybe it’s the need for approval. Maybe it’s the amount of time you waste on video games. Maybe it’s the relationship that is pulling you away from Jesus and leading you into sin. Maybe it’s the hobby that’s become an obsession. Maybe it’s the fear of rejection in sharing the gospel. I don’t know what it is for you. But I do know this – more of God always means less of us. (John 3:30)
Dying to self is hard, painful, gut wrenching work. Only those convinced it’s worth it will endure it. So, be encouraged by the stunning promise in verse 26, “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” I’m pretty sure none of us fully understand the enormity of this promise – the King of Glory will honor us?!!!?! I’ll be honest, I don’t need to fully understand that to want it!
Are you willing to ask God to show you what needs to die in you so that you can know Him more? Are you willing to die to self so you can be even more useful to God? It’s scary and it’s worth it.