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Keeping Your Life in Your Hands

Keeping Your Life in Your Hands

Have you ever spent significant time and energy on something that wasn’t that significant? Have you ever given too little attention to something that should have received more attention from you? Have you ever obsessed over something that didn’t matter at all 24 hours later? Have you ever bought something and within days, you knew you had overpaid for it?

It is possible that most of our issues in life come from not valuing things according to what they’re actually worth? So many of our regrets have to do with what we have overvalued or undervalued. There are some things we don’t care about enough and there are other things we care about way too much. But what if we could right-size the value of everything in our lives? What if we started giving something the attention it deserves? And what if we could all give more of our focus to the things that truly matter most? This is what we’re seeking to discover in the series we’re starting today, called You Care Too Much: How to Right-Size the Value of Everything.

Life is valuable. To be more specific, your life is valuable. It is of great worth. I hope you know this and believe it’s true. Because our lives are so significant, we assume we should do what we do with anything that’s super valuable. We think we should hold onto our lives and never let go of them. Here’s the question for us today:

Have you placed too much value on keeping your life in your own hands?

From the moment we learn how to speak, there’s a word that quickly enters our vocabulary: MINE. And it makes sense. We learn what belongs to us and what we wish was ours. But what if the journey we’re on together, to orient our entire lives around Jesus, comes down to whether we can make the transition from MINE to YOURS. From my will to Your will. From my money to Your money. From my plans to Your plans. From my life to Your life.

One of the most challenging things we will ever face is taking our lives out of our own hands.

Why would we even want to consider doing this? Our text for today is Matthew 16:21-27. Let me fill you in on what’s been happening immediately before this scene takes place. Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter speaks up and correctly answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This causes Jesus to tell Peter, “And you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.”

Matthew 16:21-27 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”

Jesus has a vision for your life, but his vision isn’t to fulfill your vision for your life.

Jesus begins explaining to his disciples what’s ahead for him. Jesus has already done what He’s asking us to do. He’s already made the transition from MINE to YOURS.

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

Jesus had already surrendered his life into the hands of God the Father. This wasn’t easy, knowing all that was ahead of him.

Peter doesn’t just have a plan for Peter’s life; he also has a plan for Jesus’s life. And he lets Jesus know, “No, that’s not the plan. What you are suggesting – I will never let that happen to you, because I cannot allow losing you to happen to me.”

Is there any area in your life where you are saying “never” to the plans God has for you?

“The greatest act of faith is to pledge allegiance to God’s way and surrender your own.” Ann Voskamp, Waymaker

Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan!” Out of all the things Jesus could have called Peter, why did he choose to call him Satan? Here’s why: The devil wants to do anything he can to keep us from putting our lives into God’s hands. His entire aim is to cause us to distrust God. Here are a couple prominent examples:

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

In other words, don’t trust God. Don’t put your life and your future in his hands. He’s holding out on you. The same thing happens to Jesus when he’s being tested in the wilderness for 40 days.

Matthew 4:2-4 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Satan tried to get Jesus to take His life into His own hands. Jesus knew his life was still best in God’s hands.

How is Satan trying to keep you from trusting God in this season?

Jesus then goes on to tell us a series of choices we have to make. We can have in mind the concerns of God or merely human concerns. We can deny ourselves or we can deny Jesus. We can follow Jesus or follow ourselves. We can save our life or lose it. We can gain the world or lose the world. We can lose our soul or keep our soul.

We don’t like having to make choices or decisions. This is why we have phrases like “decision paralysis” or “decision fatigue”. It’s also why we love this phrase – “keeping my options open”.

We are always giving up one thing to have something else.

This is the idea of making an exchange or what Greg McKeown calls “trade-offs” in his book Essentialism. We do have to give something up, but our obsession and focus shouldn’t be on all that we are losing.

“Instead of asking, ‘What do I have to give up?’ they ask, ‘What do I want to go big on?’ The cumulative impact of this small change in thinking can be profound.” Greg McKeown, Essentialism

I’m not saying it won’t be costly; it will be. But what if we make our minds up that we want to go big on following Jesus and putting our lives in His hands?! Here’s a great example Jesus gave of someone who so values what he is receiving that he literally doesn’t care about all he’s giving up.

Matthew 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

These two stories may seem incredible, but this is how we treat anything of immense value. We do whatever it takes to get it. We give up whatever we have to so that we can possess it. Jesus is essentially saying this to us: When you begin to right-size the value of life with me and life in the kingdom, I promise you that you’ll be willing to give up everything else – including keeping your life in your own hands.

When this first man found the treasure, he didn’t regret selling everything he had. He sold it with JOY. This is how valuable Jesus is. When we get this, surrender becomes more of a “get to” than a “have to”.

How do you save your life by losing it? Again, Jesus has already done what he’s asking us to do. By losing his life, he has brought about eternal life to everyone who would put their faith in Him. And yes, the cross was very real for him and he’s calling us to take up our cross. But let’s not forget that in God’s story, there’s a resurrection on the other side of the cross. Or to say it another way, life always follows death.

The last verse in our text today says that Jesus is coming back and He’s going to reward each person according to what they have done. This obviously sounds like we’ve been given a to-do list and that we’re going to be graded by how much of that list we have accomplished. I think it’s okay to think about it like that. But what if there’s really only one thing on that list? Or at least, what if everything on the to-do list all falls under one giant category?

What if everything about your future is determined by whether or not you put your whole life into the hands of Jesus?

This is why Jesus told us not to run after all the things the world runs after.

Matthew 6:32-33 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

If you keep your life in your hands, you’re responsible for the outcomes. If you put your life in God’s hands, He’s responsible for the outcomes.

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Here's something we all know. We know we should put our most valuable possessions in the most secure place possible. Please value your life. And if you value your life, you’ll want to place it in the most secure place – and that place is in the hands of God. Will you do that today?

Responses:

1 – You’ve been holding onto your life and the truth is you’ve never genuinely placed your faith/your life into the hands of Jesus. I want to invite you to do that today.

2 – There’s something in your life you’re trying to control because you’re afraid of how it’s going to go. You’re holding onto it because you care so much about it. The uncertainty of your future. How your kids are going to turn out. Your work desires. Relationship dreams. Opportunities you want to pursue. For me, I have to put some things back into God’s hands every single day – especially my 4 children, opportunities I’d love to have, and all we’re having to do to afford and buildout 414 Brannan Street – Epic’s future home.

We have believed that our only 2 options were to hold onto it tightly or let it hit the floor. The invitation is to actually place it into the hands of Jesus.

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