Matthew 10:39: Spending Your Life

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.(Matthew 10:39, NIV)
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.(Matthew 16:25, NIV)
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.(Mark 8:35, NIV)
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.(Luke 9:24, NIV)
Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.(Luke 17:33, NIV)
The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.(John 12:25, NIV)

The four gospels present Jesus' statement in six different ways. Thus, the differences must have been more than differences in translating Jesus' words into the Greek of the New Testament. Jesus must have given this statement more than once in more than one way. All six verses have the word, lose, while five have a different antonym to contrast with lose. These are find, save, keep, and preserve. For what a person does, the Gospel of John has love and its antonym, hate, instead of lose and an antonym.

The word translated life in these verses is the word psyche. It means an individual life as opposed to the general term for life in such phrases as eternal life. It is sometimes translated soul. However, we use the term soul in such a different way than the meaning of psyche in the New Testament that life is a better translation. A good example is John 10:11-18; 13:37-38; 15:13. The New Testament expression to lay down one's life, meaning to willingly die for another, has the word psyche translated as life. Because of the way people often use the word soul today, the phrase to lay down one's soul would not make sense. We do not use the term soul as an antonym of dead.

How do people attempt to find, save, keep, or preserve their lives? There are many different ways, but they are all characterized by selfishness. People try to look at life as if it were something that could be hoarded as often done with money. However, time continues to run no matter what we do. Life is much more like love than money. Love multiplies by giving it away. God showed us the greatest love possible by giving His life for us (John 15:13). We now love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Because Jesus sacrificed His life, we have eternal life (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10). You are spending your life on something. You cannot stop time from running out. Will you spend your life on things that will not matter when it is over, or will you spend it on being a part of God's eternal plan?

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