Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
When Jesus came, he taught a backwards, upside-down economy of things. This text is a prime example. “Whoever loves his life loses it” is the kind of teaching that feels alien to all who have not experienced how true it is. Jesus teaches us the seemingly backwards direction forward to true life is death; death to selfishness, death to pride, death to self preservation. These are not principles that ring true as a philosophy only, but are wired into our truest human design for thriving. Do you have doubts that this is true? The way forward is to try what he teaches and prove it to be true. Just remember even Jesus struggled with this, saying, “Father save me from this hour.” Life lies beyond the selflessness, not in the idea of it. Crucifixion lies before resurrection.
Yet, there is a risk here. For a people pleaser, a text like this can become crippling. This text does not call us to be door mats, always ignoring our own needs in the name of service. It is not selfless to over- serve because that usually flows from a different, selfish desire. As a recovering people pleaser, I know how easy it is for me to lay aside my own needs because I don’t want someone to think badly of me. Or I want them to think of me as reliable and humble. Death to self for a people pleaser might require you to say no to something.
So today, what does it mean to die that you may live? Selflessness is food for the soul. Choose one thing today that is others seeking and do it. It can be a small act of kindness at your own expense. Sacrifice time or money for the sake of others. For you people pleasers, this may mean you say no to something someone asks you to do because your selfishness is hidden in your desire for praise. Lose your life, and you just might find it.
By Aaron Bjorklund