At first glance, the title of this post seems to be somewhat of an oxymoron, because you generally don’t see the words “living” and “martyr” in the same sentence. For a martyr is someone who dies for their religion or belief; and yet the title is “The Living Martyr”… why is that?
Here is the reason, in John 12:24-25 Jesus says, “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
There’s a misconception floating around implying that dying to yourself and your old way of being is optional. But listen to these words of Jesus very carefully, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) It’s clear that this idea of dying to oneself is not optional, but actually mandatory in order to follow Christ.
There’s no way around it, everything we are naturally is at enmity with this Holy God. If we want to follow Jesus Christ we must die to ourselves. When God calls on us, we can’t have any hindrance of ourselves impeding on the calling that God is bringing us to. But if we have not died to ourselves, we (still being in control of our lives instead of Jesus) will hesitate, stutter, and ultimately only respond in what we’re comfortable with. But, if we can say along with Paul, “I die daily”, then we’re taking the first step in being useful to God. For now we’re moving past ourselves and into the realm of Christ.
Arriving at this place of death for ourselves at first glance seems sad if you’re looking at yourself. But if you take your eyes off yourself and behold Jesus and all that He is, you’ll see that sacrificing your life for Him is really no loss for you, but complete gain! Trust that being regenerated by the living God himself is worth the sacrifice of yourself, even though it will likely bring temporary discomfort. In order to go through this process and be transformed, we’ll need to continually rely on the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to work in us this change. But don’t be afraid of the process, for although it’s uncomfortable for the “old man”, the “new man” in Christ will be leaping spiritual hoops of joy in this new found life that is in Christ!
To become a living martyr for Jesus Christ, every area of your life must be opened up for examination and given to God. Nothing in your life can be held with clenched fists, it all belongs to Christ now. This includes (but is not limited to), your time, money, family, friends, relationships, reputation, abilities, dreams, desires, possessions, and career. Nothing can be held back from Christ, for remember, we must die to ourselves daily. This life is not ours to hold on to, it’s been bought with a price by Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:20), and we must give it up in order for him to receive the reward of His suffering.
May we be living martyrs, not taking a single thought for our lives, but rather, laying our lives down as an offering unto our Savior daily.