… And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. …
“He that loveth his life shall lose it“, or, “He that loveth his life loses it“—i.e., that the loss of life is not in the future only, but that in the present, in every moment when a man loves and seeks to save his own life, that is, seeks to preserve and advance his temporal life, power, and glory, he is then, and by that very seeking, actually losing it. The words of this verse are familiar to us from the earlier Gospels. The disciples had heard them laid down as the law of their own life and work. They now hear the mysterious words again, and they are asserted as the law to which even His life is submitted.
There is, even in His human nature, a physical and emotional life which would shrink from sacrifice and death. Jesus IS fully human. But in self-sacrifice and death is His own glory and the life of the world. There is in ALL human nature a principle which would seek as the highest good the life of the body and of the soul, as in pleasure, comfort, wealth, power, glory, sensual delight, and so on. This is the temporal domain, this life, as distinct from the higher life of the spirit, and human nature would shrink from sacrifice and death. But the true principle of life is of the spirit, not the body, and only in the sacrifice of the desires of the lower physical and emotional life, the death of “Self” is that spiritual life realized.
And we don’t REALLY believe this fundamental, foundational, concept – that we MUST put away the self in order to do good in the world. Everything we do and think revolves around the core of “How does this do good for me?” What’s in it for me? How does this make me look to others? How does this give me more power, or make me look smarter or … well we all know what I mean here.
When I rant about the corruption of bureaucrats and the self interested venality of our leaders, am I really justified? Or, am I just upset because someone else figured out how to get away with putting a really big scam over the other voters who simply MUST be stupid to let these wieners get away with this. Regardless of the truth of the observations why do I think I am justified in getting torqued about someone else’s peccadilloes? Should I not be spending some of that valuable time and energy sorting out my own planks instead of whining about the politicians splinters? How is my complaining helping this “death of self” that is needed to produce “much fruit”?
Verily, verily, the unexamined life is not worth living.
Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately