It’s a love-hate relationship. By which I mean I love it way too much. I need to hate it more. And the “it” I’m referring to is life in this world.
There’s an old proverb that tells about a monkey who reaches into a tree trunk for some acorns that have been collected by a squirrel. But a problem develops, and what seems like treasure ends up becoming a trap.
The problem is this. As long as the monkey holds on to the acorns, he cannot extricate his fist from the hole in the tree. The tiny knot in the tree is only large enough for the hand to come out if the monkey flattens his hand. Of course, he doesn’t want to do that, because that means losing the treasured acorns.
In the end, sadly, the greedy monkey dies of his unwillingness to let go of the acorns.
Sometimes people are like that. We are so busy collecting and holding on to the things of this life, so consumed with all the little opportunities this life seems to offer, and so unwilling to give any of these up, that we lose something far greater — our eternal life.
Because of his great love for us, Jesus did it differently. Jesus willingly uncurled his hand and gave up his life here so that he could redeem all mankind. He unselfishly sacrificed everything he could have had as an earthly king so that he could provide an eternal kingdom for each of us.
Jesus urges us to follow him in this. He warns us of the danger of holding too tightly to the things of this life. He points out that this is the way to lose everything. If we will simply open our hand and let go of the things of this life, Jesus promises, we will keep our life for eternity.
Though he certainly could have, Jesus doesn’t ask us to do what he is unwilling to do. He did first for us what he asks now of us.
It’s pretty simple, the way Jesus puts it: Follow me, and you will end up being with me.
And there, with Jesus, you will forever enjoy the honor of God the Father.
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:25-26, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Thursday, May 21, is 1 Samuel 8:1 – 10:8, John 12:12-36 and Psalm 65:1-13.
Lord Jesus, thank you for willingly sacrificing your life here, so that you could win life eternal for me. Help me to willingly “hate” my life in this world, so that I may keep it for eternal life. Help me to follow you, so that I may be with you, enjoying the glory of the Heavenly Father for eternity.