John 12:25 is a challenging verse for believers; it reads, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” A similar statement is found four other times in the Gospels. I would encourage you to read Matthew 10:39 and 16:25; Mark 8:35; and Luke 9:24. In each instance the Lord Jesus is speaking of “discipleship” and of how it will cost the believer something to follow Him. This verse is simply teaching us that after we are saved we should no longer live for ourselves and for this world which is headed for judgment. If we are still occupied with living for the pleasures and pursuits of this present life we will lose it; that is, it will count for nothing once we get to heaven. But if we realize the vanity of living to gratify ourselves and live in view of the next life, our lives will indeed reap precious fruit when we get to heaven.

Perhaps you are acquainted with the story of Jim Elliot and four other missionaries who risked their lives in giving the gospel to the Quechua Indians in Ecuador. They were eventually murdered by those they were seeking to bless. In Jim Elliot’s journal, the following quote was found based on Luke 9:24: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim had taken to heart the truth of this verse and in time he paid the ultimate price by laying down his life for the gospel. Some thought he was a fool for going off to Ecuador to spread the gospel among uncivilized Indian tribes, but Jim learned the precious truth that to sacrifice worldly ambitions and self-glory for Christ’s sake was NOT foolish, for “he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

I would like to draw our attention to the preceding verse, John 12:24. It says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” We know that our blessed Savior was giving us an analogy from nature to illustrate how He would soon die on the cross in order to save sinners. He did NOT live for this world and its fleeting vanities; He lived to glorify His Father and to bring salvation to lost and guilty sinners. His life from the manger to the cross was one of self-sacrifice, and by laying down His life at Calvary millions of sinners have been saved. His precious death has indeed brought “forth much fruit!”

In verse 25 He is laying down the same principle of “self-sacrifice” for us. We too should be willing to lay down our lives for His sake and for the blessing of others. We may not be called upon to pay the ultimate price as Jim Elliot and his fellow missionaries did, but we should be willing to live a self-sacrificing life for others. 1 John 3:16 states, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” In order to reach sinners with the gospel the Apostle Paul said, in 2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Paul suffered in many ways and in the end he too was martyred for his faith in Christ. Do you think Paul has any regrets that he “hated his life in this world” and lived for the world to come? No way! And neither will we, dear brothers and sisters. If we are willing to live a life of self-sacrifice and thus “lose our life,” we shall indeed “keep it unto life eternal.” It will bear precious fruit in the life to come! (166.10) (DO)