And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
Biblical faith is active and costly. In John 14:15, Christ explains that those who love Him will obey His commands. Obedience must be understood to be active (there is no passive obedience), and remaining active for Christ will cost us our lives as we expend our limited stocks of time, energy and resources. Biblical discipleship is therefore a process of losing our lives; it is impossible to interpret and apply Christ’s teachings without understanding this point. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” He tells us in Matthew 10:39.
It is worth noting that even if we are not obedient to Christ, we are diminishing day by day as we approach the day of our death. Therefore, we have only two options: (1) seeking to expend ourselves for Christ’s sake or (2) attempting to preserve ourselves as we diminish day by day. Let us be clear in understanding that both options lead to our earthly death. Our lives are either used or lost.
In the economy of this world, any personal gain is always weighed against its cost. In Acts 20:24 (see above), the Apostle Paul explains that the value, or cost, of his life is so small compared with the gain of obeying Christ that he “does not account his life of any value nor as precious to himself.”
Paul’s phrasing, and especially the word precious, connects with us because most of us were raised, and now raise our children and grandchildren, to continually affirm the value of our lives. We take great pains to convince our children and grandchildren that their lives are precious, and rightly so, but we miss the mark if we suggest that there is nothing more precious. Our Lord’s eternal kingdom is worth so much more that we not only should be ready to respond to God’s call but also should beseech Him for greater opportunities to trade everything for the kingdom’s advancement.
Christ’s parables of the hidden treasure and pearl of great value in Matthew 13:44–46 illustrate the infinitely great value of God’s kingdom by telling us that each man traded all that he had to purchase his treasure. Note also in verse 44 that the man went “in his joy” to sell all that he had. We are meant to joyfully give everything.