Cruel To Be Kind: Destroy Your Life to Save It
God is not so interested in how a sinful world perceives His children. It seems as though He is not so interested in our credibility. He will probably not bless our attempt to become a successful and respectable member of society. If one is already a solid secular citizen within one’s chosen social and business circle, as opposed to being a member in good standing within His kingdom, it was most likely achieved without His help.
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” [Mark 8:34-38]
The word “lose” in the above passage is from a Greek word that means to utterly destroy. In other words, to save one’s life one must destroy one’s life. One must destroy the old before the new can come forth. Demolition precedes construction. Winter precedes spring. Night precedes the dawn. One must die before one can be born again. Real repentance is as death. The second birth is a resurrection. Without a new birth, one will die in their sins and both body and soul will be destroyed in hell. 
The glorification of sinful flesh is not one of the Lord’s priorities. There are people who become very successful in this life without any of God’s help. They strive and achieve only to leave it all behind at death. Imagine the people who lost their homes and livelihoods recently in the northeastern floods and Texas fires. These are terrible tragedies. But death is often like that, in that everything a person has ever built, accumulated, and worked for remains behind within the tiny closed parameters of this physical world.
You cannot take it with you. Wealthy people don’t have a Brink’s truck following their hearse to their gravesite. And while we are in this material realm, anything we may possess is subject to loss.
The best way to protect your stuff is to give it to God. Let Him have control. Subject it to His authority. He may tell you to get rid of some stuff. He may tell you to keep this and that. He may instruct you to give stuff away. But one thing is certain: Whatever He may want you to keep, you will keep; at least until it is time to let it go.
Isn’t this a better way to live? Isn’t this exactly how the Lord Jesus taught us we must live? If we can’t take it with us, why do we insist on clutching onto all our stuff and our own authority in the present?
It is the same with our reputations. We often spend years building up reputations that later come apart in an instant, sometimes through no fault of our own. If our reputation is based on being an honest person, not much of it will be lost. But honest people tell the truth, and that means they even tell the truth about themselves. They don’t hide their faults and shortcomings. They are humble. They know they often come up short against standing societal mores and spiritual directives, but are more interested in being honest and trying to get better than securing a fake resume inflated like a hot air balloon.
It is such false biographies and fake reputations that eventually blow up and come crashing down. All things phony bite the dust. Only the real survives. And only the real, based on God’s definition of the term, makes a successful trip into eternity. As our foundational example, consider the life of the greatest Man who ever lived:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:1-8] 
For the real Christian, he or she belongs to God. And that includes all our stuff. It also includes our credibility. It includes anything we may be and anything He wants us to be. In this light, it makes little spiritual sense to hoard up a bunch of stuff, whether material or not, that might in all probability be weighing us down and grounding us to this world.
The Bible clearly states that real Christians are not of this world. The Lord Jesus is not of this world. We are supposed to be born again OUT of this world and INTO His kingdom. So who cares what anybody else may think? The Lord certainly didn’t care what others thought about Him. He was on a mission, He would not be stopped, and the world was only doing what came naturally when trying to destroy Him in any way it could. He caught it from everyone, including His own nation, friends, and family. Rather than recognizing Him as God, this is how almost everyone actually perceived Him:
Because He drank wine, He was thought to be a common drunk. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because He ate the same food as everyone else, He was thought to be a glutton. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because He reached out to the lost, He was thought to be an associate of sinners. [Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34]
Because there were serious questions about His birth, He was thought to be illegitimate. [John 8:41]
Because everyone else was stupid and dense, He was thought to be insane. [Mark 3:21]
Because He had spiritual abilities no one else had, He was thought to be demon-possessed. [Mark 3:22, 30]
Because He humbly downplayed who He really was, He was thought to be a nobody. [Matthew 13:54-56]
Clearly, the Lord Jesus did not care about a worldly reputation. His focus was on doing the will of the Father and accomplishing His purpose. This should be our focus as well. When we drift from this, should we wonder why the Lord does not seem to care about the things we hold most dear? If one decides to live for God, one will be persecuted. People will think you’ve gone off the deep end. They will hate you, think you’re crazy, call you every name in the book, and run your name into the ground.
If you consider yourself to be a real Christian and these things are not happening in your life, you better check your oil. The more a believer attacks the gates of hell to rescue the lost and reveal truth, the more the enemy will fight. If one is not in the fight, one is not with the Lord and the Lord is not with him. If one is more concerned with one’s worldly reputation or comfort level than serving the Lord, one has little spiritual reputation and is no threat to the devil.
And though the unbelieving world hates real Christians, the adversary is well aware of his enemies. They are known in hell: The evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Matthew 10:28
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
 Acts 19:15 NKJV