“Then Jesus said to His disciples,
‘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 lose his life for My sake will find it.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels,
and will then repay every man according to his deeds.’”
Start at the end. “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels.” That should be our first motivation. Keep an eternal perspective. Yes, we must work and play and live life, but it should be done with the knowledge that in the end, Jesus is coming! How will Jesus sum up your life when it is over? Will He say that you were His? That you followed His calling and that you trusted Him? That doesn’t mean that everyone has to be a missionary or a pastor. It does mean that when you hear Jesus’ voice, are you obedient? He may be calling you to a certain profession, or for a one time smile or word of encouragement to someone. Are you listening and willing to go and do as He directs?
Then comes the second motivation – We will be repaid according to our deeds. That is not salvation by works, but rather as a saved son or daughter of the King what is your life about? Are you doing good, seeking peace, abstaining from evil, speaking the good news, and most importantly, are you obeying the Savior’s call?
Once our heart is right with Godly intent and motivation, then we can go back to the beginning of these verse. If my heart’s motivation is to please Jesus and look for His coming and be about deeds that are of the KIngdom, then denying myself and taking up my cross is not so foreign or hard. I trust Jesus. He is coming back. He saved me. He is in control. Any “cross” that comes my way, He will give me the strength and wisdom to handle Biblically. I can give up my desires, expectations, whims, time, dreams, etc… for the King of Kings Who is coming back for me! I can turn over the results to the God who saved me and know that He wants what is best for my eternal good not merely to make me feel good now. When I hear His voice, I am free to obey knowing that He will work all things out after His will.
There is great peace when we surrender to God’s desire and will. There is rest when we trust. God is good and able and will support me in anything He calls me to do.