For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25–26—NKJV)

We hear of many tales of people who sacrifice themselves in the attempt to rescue someone else. Sometimes their death is a regrettable and unintended consequence. In other instances, it is the highest level of courage, bravery, and self-sacrifice which has been the product of clear-minded thinking.

How do you place a value on life? For what would you sell your life? These are questions which deserve some serious consideration. It is to encourage clear thinking on this subject that our Lord says what He does in Matthew 16.

We are not thinkers of such high-minded ideals at birth. We find ourselves alive, and therefore we little value the tremendous gift of life that God has given us. For some of us it takes a while to wake up enough to begin to value life, while for others it is a point to which they never come. Higher ideals must be taught and caught.

As we investigate the Bible, we learn that God is the Giver of life (Genesis 2:7) and that He created man in His image (Genesis 1:26). That image-bearing roll that all men receive from conception, though marred by the fall, is the first principle which determines the intrinsic value of every man’s life. Since “like produces like” (Genesis 1:25–28) we know that the unique life that God gave to Adam, He has given to all “sons of Adam.” This life is distinct from the type of life evident in animals and plants. The Bible reveals that our life is eternal, man is a living soul. All human life is precious.

As a result of the fall, the nature of man, twisted by sin and selfishness, becomes the taproot of all our sin. As we grow into our own, we chose to selfishly run our lives and suffer no intrusions into our sovereignty. Our Lord challenges the thought by stating that any man who selfishly grasps his life and what he has made of it (“save” means to rescue and cling to by all means) will lose it. Doubtless, we all will die in this sin cursed world, for no one makes it out of here alive. We will leave everything behind, and face our Maker to give an account.

The questions our Lord asks are like a shocking splash of cold water to your sleeping soul. He asks you to mentally balance the checkbook of your life by using “eternal” mathematics. Think: even if it were possible for you to successfully do something that no one has ever done—own the entire world’s riches and fame in uncontested supremacy during your lifetime—and yet, after death, you arrive at the great day of reckoning before God and hear the pronouncement of sentence upon your eternal soul condemning you to eternity in hell, how great is your loss? You will have succeeded where no one else has, but you will have lost and failed where lesser men have succeeded.

What is the exchange rate for a human life? The soul has no market price, but there is an eternal valuation because Jesus Christ died so that those who trust in His sacrificial death as payment for their sin might live. This is why our Lord says that whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake shall find it. There is no price that can be paid to buy back a wasted life. But there is one thing you have that has eternal value and that is your life. It is the committing of your life to Him which is the only sufficient response to the self-sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.

Have the words of our Lord shocked you into the realization that selfishly grasping after your personal life at all costs is a losing proposition? Do you see it is best to turn the control of your life over to Him? Are there ways to think biblically and clearly about the value of life which you must revisit? Do you recognize that God is the “God of the living?” Trust and obey.