– Mother Teresa
I think this is what Mother Teresa did all of her life. She must have read, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25), and thought at an early age, “I must lose my own life to live simply for Christ, so I will live simply so that I can simply live for Christ.” Surely she lived this out: “Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
When Jesus was teaching the disciples, He reminded them that unless they are abiding in Him, they cannot produce any lasting or godly fruit (John 15:4), but if they do, they will produce much fruit (John 15:5). The hope is that we will bear a lot of godly fruit and that this fruit-bearing will glorify God the Father (John 15:8), just as Mother Teresa’s lifelong labor of love must have.
Jesus warned us to “take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). The danger is, of course, that we can have an abundance of possessions and own much, but do we own them or do they own us? Covetousness is so sneaky. It sneaks up on you, and then you suddenly realize that you have a storage shed or two of possessions that you rarely use more than once a year. The rule in my clothing closet and garage is that if I don’t wear it or use it in a year, I will never wear it or use it, and off to the prison ministry thrift store it goes.
Living for Him
Jesus said that we must seek the kingdom first, above all things (Matt. 6:33), and, of course, that means seeking the King of that kingdom, which makes sense of Jesus’ radical statement: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Can you imagine what the crowd must have thought when they heard Jesus say that? They knew the commandments to honor their parents and to love their neighbors as themselves, but to hate their father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and, on top of that, their own life? Wow! Jesus saying that we must hate those is a contrast of our relationship with Him in comparison to that of others whom we naturally love, including ourselves, and when compared to our relationship with Christ, it will look like hate compared to others.
We cannot produce any godly fruit apart from abiding in Christ (John 15:4-7). We must choose to abide in Him so we can live sacrificially, so we can live fruitfully, so we can live simply, and so we can live for Him, or, as Mother Teresa said “Live simply so others may simply live.”