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5 Steps for Living with Authentic Faith

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25

This verse is currently the wallpaper on my phone. Every time I activate the screen it both encourages and convicts. It’s part of the recipe for authentic faith, and it’s not easy.

Living for Jesus is an all or nothing commitment. 

I think to myself: Am I losing my life for His sake? After all, Jesus willingly lost His own life for my sake!

In the eyes of the world I have lost much—especially in abandoning the Ivy-League career path to marry and do ministry alongside my husband. Have I then truly lost my life for Christ? Is that how He measures it?

When it comes to authentic faith, we must examine our heart: 

  • Do I surrender everything—my loved ones, image, success, control, etc.—to Him?
  • Would I do anything for His sake, even saying “no” to what looks or feels good but is sin?
  • Do I fight skirmishes with selfishness through His power,  and seek His glory rather than my own?
  • Do I love His cause and His people?

Remember, it is His grace that saves us. However, our receiving of that grace is revealed by what we are willing to lose and willing to do for His glory! James 2:14-17

Missionary Jim Elliot, who lost his life seeking to minister to natives in Ecuador wisely said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Such wisdom matches what we find in Matthew 16:25. Look at its full context:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses 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 shall a man give in return for his soul? 

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:24-27

This message comes straight from Christ’s lips, and it’s a blueprint for having authentic faith.

5 Steps to Living for Christ:

1. Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross

In a parallel passage in Luke 9:23, Jesus says to take up our crosses daily.

What does self-denial look like in your current place in life? How can you better prioritize God and His Kingdom, rather than be stuck in your own?

Maybe it looks like addressing your husband’s needs first, treasuring moments to serve your kids rather than piling up complaints, or jumping on the urge to pray.

The willingness to die to self is born out of thankfulness for Christ’s own loving sacrifice. May we speak like Paul:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

There’s a raw beauty to self-denial. Click To Tweet

2. Remember Who Is Savior

Don’t try to save yourself through worldly pursuits – Jesus already provides the salvation that matters!

He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and that includes each and every one of us. Admit and confess sin daily, don’t scramble to cover up wrongs that only Christ’s grace can remove.

Humble yourself and rely on the Lord. Follow His Word, for God is trustworthy unlike our desperately ill hearts. Jeremiah 17:9

3. Dismiss the World’s Charms

When we depend on the world for affirmation, long for its fleeting pleasures, or live off self-ambition, our relationship with God withers in the process. Those temporary highs don’t compare to the heavenly inheritance we have in Jesus!

Gaining the world is dangerously overrated.

Selfish pursuits make us lose sight of the blessed freedom there is in Christ, and keep us in bondage to sin.

If we give ourselves entirely to anything apart from God, we have to examine if we are truly with Him. 1 John 2:15-17

4. Grow the Fruit of the Spirit

Christ will come again, and will our deeds have demonstrated our faith? Are we reflecting the fruit of the Spirit (i.e. joy, peace, gentleness, self-control) or still living like we did before knowing Jesus?

Our faith in Jesus comes alive when serve His Kingdom faithfully through ministry in our church, evangelism, and discipleship of others. If we abide in His love, we will bear beautiful fruit!

5. Trust that He is Sufficient

After reflecting on all of this it’s easy to fall into guilt or insecurity about our walk with the Lord. However, God’s grace is sufficient!

As long as we come before Him with trusting and meek hearts, He is faithful to grow us and draw us near to Him.

Losing our life is an everyday process, and with eternal reward. Don’t forget that for those who do lose their life for Jesus, they in fact find it forever.

In a beautiful paradox, true life is found in giving all to Christ, for He is the source of everlasting joy as our Creator, Savior and ultimate King. He is worthy!

In closing, let’s be encouraged by the example of Apostle Paul: Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

P.S. As you take these active steps of authentic belief, I also exhort you to find spiritual accountability and encouragement by joining a Bible-preaching church!

Meeting with the family of God is a special aspect of the Christian walk, and it provides opportunities to serve, grow, and disciple others for Christ.

Christian Fiction, Christian Living

Fulfillment

He must increase, I must decrease.

The horizon was alive. Green grasses danced in the evening breeze, the setting sun split the endless field and endless sky.

She was driving through the countryside, her car gliding across the cracked pavement and her mind absorbed by thoughts of yesterday. After weeks of frustration in the beauty of dusk she was remembering God.

Is it odd that the mysteries of life are only felt in the rarest of moments; only when doubts or beliefs of Him are there? 

On this brief road trip, she suddenly became overwhelmed by the journeys in life. The journey of life. In one plane flight, she could be in Asia. In one moment, she could fall from happiness to despair. While she lived in the comforts of an average American home, she was plagued by the idea that there was below-average elsewhere. Or, in the same instance, she was dreaming of the above-average world beckoning her, challenging her. This dichotomy was absurd, but her reality.

Many would tell her that she could reach higher, and be able to pull up those who were lower. This mantra settled into her heart, gave her direction and an ambition. Yet in every step up she took so far, she wondered about its worth. She wondered about its meaning. And there was the every-constant shadow of failure, of selfishness. There was truth to everyone’s encouragement to live to serve others, to seek justice, to love. The problem was such noble commands were incomplete. They were an incomplete truth.

No matter what she sought, whether honest or successful in the eyes of the world, she was consciously aware that it was revolving around her. Her self. Her desires. Her ideas of right and wrong. Her pride. Her identity. And all of the imperfection that followed. While her desire to build solidarity, to live securely and give others security, was seen as good, she was made weary by the fact that it was only temporary. That there was no final aim for it all. We live day by day, wanting to live in the moment, and yet ignoring the fact that some day it all ends. We hope in the small things, and in our pride, do we deny our need to hope for more? 

She carried many questions as she traveled down a humble highway. Her heart pondered these matters, and grew anxious as the answers surfaced, far from any revelations she had before known. As the sun faded and gave way to twilight, the woman knew to let go of herself was to receive Jesus Christ.

The God that she had encountered long ago was rising again as her hope. He knew every one of her longings and every one of her mistakes. He knew every one of her wrongs, and every minute of her distraction away from Him, her Creator. But He had died to give true life to every single person in existence, and had risen to overcome the dark holds of His creation.

He knew she desired to save the world, but He had already done it. And His selfless love would forever allow her to see His glory in the world He made.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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