What things should I give up to follow Jesus?

Hailey Vansell

A common misunderstanding that occurs in Christianity is the belief that we have to "earn" God's favor. Every religion that exists (besides Christianity) requires human effort in order to gain eternal life, salvation, or entrance into paradise. This is what makes Christianity so radical: it requires nothing on the part of the person except faith in the work that Christ already accomplished on the Cross. Any Christian group that claims you have to do something in order to earn salvation is teaching false doctrine and misunderstands the entirety of the Gospel. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast," (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV). As this verse says, salvation is, in no way, based off of our efforts to earn God's favor. It is a gift, given by God, based on the grace He chooses to show.

Although salvation is given as a gift and requires nothing in return in order to receive it, Jesus does call us to give up certain things in order to follow Him. I understand that this can be confusing, but just to clarify, salvation is given as a gift alone; nothing is required in return for the gift of salvation. On the other hand, once we have received the gift of salvation, Jesus Christ desires and commands certain things from us. One of the first things He commands us to do is to give up our self-reliance and self-trust in order to trust in Him alone. Before coming to Jesus Christ, human beings have nothing to trust in besides themselves. They trust in their knowledge, jobs, appearance, and possessions to bring them meaning in life. They trust in themselves for security, safety, and control. When you come to Christ, He commands you to give this up and to find those things (satisfaction, contentment, security, trust, etc.) in Him alone.

Along these same lines, Jesus calls up to give ourselves up to Him and His sovereign control and will (Matthew 6:25-26). Before we come to Christ, we pursue the things that we believe will bring us meaning, purpose, and satisfaction. Instead, God calls us to give up our desires and to follow Him. This is exactly what the majority of missionaries do. Often, these God-following people do not desire to live in an impoverished nation or in the jungle (without electricity and running water) for the rest of their lives simply because it sounds like a fun vocation. No, the majority of missionaries desire to honor God with their lives and they desire to do what they have been called to do more than they desire their own selfish goals/dreams/ambitions. God calls us to place His desires above our own, Him above our family, and His Will above our will. As difficult as this sounds, you will never find more joy and peace than when you are living your life according to God's Will.

I would encourage you to read through the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament). The Gospel accounts recount the life of Jesus Christ (God in the flesh) during His life and ministry on earth. Jesus talked with many people about what He calls them to give up in order to follow Him. Ultimately, it boils down to your affections. God calls you to give up anything that you love more than Him. If you love friends, family, money, or yourself more than you love Him, He is calling you to either give it up or love Him more. God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14) and He does not want to compete for your affections. God is more precious and beautiful than any treasure you could possibly acquire on earth. Instead of pursuing the temporary things of this life, pursue Christ (for He is of infinite worth and value). "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?" (Matthew 16:26). This should be our mindset during our life on earth. We need to focus on Christ and pursue Him instead of pursuing the temporary treasures this world has to offer. If we lose our soul, what worth will our temporary possessions and reputation earn us after we die? Absolutely nothing. On the other hand, if we have absolutely NOTHING on earth, except for Christ, then when this life ends, we have EVERYTHING to gain through Christ.

Image Credit: Antranias; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Salvation Biblical-Truth Christian-Life

comments powered by Disqus
Published on 5-11-2015