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Matthew 10:39 1
39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.


Jesus’ promise is that those who seek life will lose it and those who lose life for His sake will find it” (v. 39). In contemporary times, we could assign two meanings to the word life, one being physical and the other spiritual. However, the Jewish people thought of the person as a holistic bein, not divided into body and spirit (soul). In this verse, the Greek word that is used is psyche and has to do with the person’s personal well-being, their mental state.

We live in a “What’s in it for me!” kind of world where we are tempted to focus on what we can get rather than what we can give. Businesses use accounting gimmickry to persuade people to pay more for their products than they are worth. Executives bail out on Golden Parachutes, leaving behind broken businesses, ruined investors, and abandoned employees. Politicians make decisions based on re-election considerations rather than the good of the nation. Young people go to college, not to become productive citizens, but to make more money, to drive nice cars and to have more fun.

Jesus tells us that such behavior in the long run will lead to ruin and such people will lose their “lives.” We see this even in the short run. Truly happy people are those who live for something larger than themselves. The narcissist strives for happiness but achieves only broken relationships and unfulfilled dreams. Jesus promises that it will be quite different for those who “loses his life (psychen) for my sake” (v. 39).

Religion, specifically our Christian faith, is worth everything. Those who believe the truths of Christianity will examine it, look at the price tag and decide it is worth the cost. Their life’s budget will make everything else come second, yielding their priorities to Christ. It is Christ who leads us through sufferings, holds our hand and walks us to God’s glory with Him. Those who are best prepared for the life to come have the most lose in this present life.  Christ never said that we deserve a reward. We get no wages for sins and we get no wages for charitable deeds. If it was not for the generous gift of God’s Grace, we would have nothing of eternal value. This is the main reason why we are called to thank God for His gift of grace, and boldly confess our faith and trust in His son, Jesus Christ.

Practically all writers of history view this verse as the sacred gift reserved for the martyrs who approached the flame, or the wild beasts, or the burning sands, with this though in their hearts and on their lips. However, there is another message here, not merely for martyrs but for every member of God’s family in every generation. That the person who gives his life without reservation in the pursuit of God’s will is also losing his worldly life in the sense of this verse. To submerge one’s own life and will in that of Christ is to say “It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Items for Discussion

  • How does the world attempt to change our priorities away from our God?
  • Do you think that you must suffer in order to be doing God’s will?  Why or why not?
  • What is it that we must lose and what is it we will gain?
  • Think about an ordinary day, a day in your life. What are the opportunities you might be asked to give up as Paul calls us to do and, instead, to live for Christ?
  • How do you know whether your daily sacrifices are what God and Christ want of you?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does the body of Christ, the Christian Church, help out its members with this task?


  1. NIV New International Version Translations