Is it worth it?

Here’s a question: “It it worth it to give up everything for Jesus?” Now, before we give our trite “Christian” answer, I want us to honestly think about it, because if you’re like me, this is actually a difficult question…that is, in practice. We sing about it, make our declarations of complete fealty to Jesus, but when the proverbial rubber meets the road, we can have honest doubts we feel we dare not admit openly.

With this mind, I came upon the following passage in Matthew recently in my devotional reading. This response from Jesus comes after Peter asked if it was worth it to have given up everything to follow Him:

28 Jesus responded, “Listen to the truth: In the age of the restoration of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will have twelve thrones of your own, and you will govern the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 For anyone who has left behind their home and property, leaving family—brothers or sisters, mothers or fathers, or children—for my sake, they will be repaid a hundred times over and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who push themselves to be first will find themselves last. And those who are willing to be last will find themselves to be first.” (Matt.19:28-30 TPT*)

Okay, this is a very familiar verse. I’ve read it hundreds of times and just passed over it. But there seemed to be “burning bush” here this time!

What struck me was the context, “In the age of the restoration of all things.” I had always assumed it meant in the age when Jesus returns, and on I read. Of course, we’ll be rewarded then, but it’s not what this particular phrase means.

There’s one single Greek word for “In the age of the restoration of all things.” It’s παλιγγενεσία (palingenesia). It means a “new birth” or “regeneration.” It’s only used one other time  in the New Testament (Titus 3:5). Another way to render this passage in Matthew would be as follows:

“In the new birth, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne….29 For anyone who has left behind their home and property, leaving family—brothers or sisters, mothers or fathers, or children—for my sake, they will be repaid a hundred times over and will inherit eternal life.”

My point is that this is talking about believers—now—not just when we die and go to heaven or even when Jesus returns. There are other verses for that, but this is not one of them.

Think of it this way: when exactly do we inherit eternal life? Is it not when we first believed?

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth [palingenesia] and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5 NIV*)

Of course, eternal life—aiōnios (endless) zōē (God’s life)—is both now and forever for us because the indwelling life of God in us through Holy Spirit, and His life exists now and forever.

So, I come back to my question. “Is it worth it to give up everything for Jesus?”

Here’s the thing: we will only ever understand this question when answering it costs us dearly, even having to let go of something or someone we dearly love—when it looks to us like saying yes is a living hell compared to hanging on whatever it is Jesus is telling us to let go.

This is why it’s easier for someone destitute, or someone having already failed in relationships, or anyone with nothing left to lose, to cry at the altar and give it all to Jesus than most of us are willing to give up. But as the great prophet from the 1960s, Kris Kristofferson wrote:

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,
And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free (“Me And Bobby McGee”)

This kind of freedom is an illusion. Nothing left to lose really is nothing. We can only appreciate true freedom when we realize the great cost required of us. And when we can’t let go of what’s holding on to us, like what happened to the rich young ruler earlier in the story, often happens to us.

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matt.19:22 NKJV)

Beloved, Jesus is the Great Incentiviser! But the problem the rich young ruler had, like many of us in the prosperous West, is that he could not get past what he had to lose, so he never experienced the truly abundant and overflowing life he could’ve gained—in this life and the next—had he just trusted Jesus instead of the fragile and fleeting security of his great wealth.

We will all certainly face this question in some form. It may not have anything to do with money, but it will always have to do with what has our affections.

The truth is, we cannot follow Jesus while still holding on to other things, but His promise to us is that our life in Him will be at least hundred times better than our life without Him! You can trust Him on that one, even if making that decision seems like the opposite at the time.

29–30 Jesus replied, “Listen to my words: anyone who leaves his home behind and chooses God’s kingdom over wife, children, parents, and family, it will come back to him many more times in this lifetime. And in the age to come, he will inherit even more than that—he will inherit eternal life!” (Luke 18:29-31 TPT*)

* All emphasis and words in brackets added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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11 Responses to Is it worth it?

  1. Sweet! Amen, Mel. Love it. Well said.

    When my whole family faceplanted and my hubby was in the hospital on a vent, Jesus kept saying those words to me, “..anyone who has left behind their home and property, leaving family—brothers or sisters, mothers or fathers, or children—for my sake..,” I really had to let go of all these sentimentalities, all these idols that I falsely believed were directly connected to my own well being. And at that point, peace, safety, security, faith, confidence, all kinds of good stuff! The whole world can fall away, but it is well with your soul.

    Anything you can’t walk away from holds power over you. That doesn’t mean you have to walk away from things, it just means if you “can’t,” then you are a prisoner to it. Kind of sad, right now people are being forced or pressured to sacrifice their beliefs and values, for their job, for the right to travel, even just to go to a concert. We tend to build a lot of little idols and then we are ruled by fear, fear of losing them. Even our very lives, glorious and worth extending as much as possible, but not something we should fear losing. In fact, when you let Jesus teach you how to let go of fear, life gets really worth living!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, IB. Great comments. What you said at the end is especially important. When we let Jesus help us let go of the fear is when we really start living, when we love more fully.

      When I graduated with an Electronics Engineering Degree in Chicago in 1982, the computer industry was just starting to boom. A lot of my classmates got prestigious jobs at Silicon Valley. The rest is history, as they say. I could easily have gone there, too. But it would’ve required that I sell too much of my soul to do so. The money and opportunity wasn’t enough. So I chose to live here in “fly-over country.” I worked in Chicago for awhile, then left that industry altogether for the ministry (going into ministry was an immediate 60% drop in my income. LOL!). But that decision is the one thing I never regretted because I found out what Jesus meant when He said that our life does not consist of the things we possess. My life is not without trials, but it’s so much fuller now.

      Since becoming a pastor in 1991, I’ve counseled way too many people who chose career over having a vibrant life in Christ, and all of them suffered in their relationships, anxiety, insecurity, but especially in their soul. The honest ones would admit to me that they were better off before they moved away from a vibrant church family, where they were deeply connected, for a better career.

      Jesus offers us the things that really matter about life, even if we don’t get it at the time. That’s where trust and faith comes in. So, yes, it absolutely is scary to take the “road less traveled,” to quote Robert Frost, but that scary decision truly does make the difference.

  2. A wonderful teaching Mel— I have read and studied a good bit about St Francis— a man who gave up even the clothes on his back when he understood God calling his name—and so I’ve sat in a house full of stuff and I have been overwhelmed by what all we have and how not so easy it would be to simply walk away-
    When I was an art Ed student and took art history classes— we had to study the doors of the baptistry in Florence. There was a competition I see what artist would be commissioned to create the bronze relief panels for the doors. Artists were asked to submit a relief of the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac. Ghiberti win beating out Brunelleschi—
    I however got mired down in the story behind Abraham’s obedience—
    I still have such a difficult time wrapping my brain around the entire event—
    Oh to have such faith

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yeah, but what’s really astounding about Abraham’s faith would not have been sacrificing his son. In his pagan culture, that was considered the supreme sacrifice. Abraham, by our standards, still very much thought like a pagan. What’s really remarkable about Abraham’s faith is that he believed God would raise Isaac from the dead if he did have to sacrifice him. That was unheard of in his world! That’s real trust. This was the writer of Hebrew’s point in verse 19 below:

      17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (Heb.11:17-19 NKJV)

      And this also speaks to why we should let go of things that have a hold of us in this world. We are people of the resurrection! 🙂

  3. And please forgive my typos

  4. If you haven’t had to do it, it is easy to say, but some of us have HAD to do to be able to truly serve the Lord! 😢💗👍

  5. Pingback: Is it worth it? — In My Father’s House – QuietMomentsWithGod

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