25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
This verse applies the seed illustration of the previous verse to Jesus’ followers. Verse 25 offers a wheat analogy to illustrate a paradoxical principle—death is the way to life. Jesus’ death led to His glory. Not only is this true for Jesus but it is also true for those who believe in Him.
After His parable of the necessity of the seed falling into the ground, Jesus gave instruction for His followers on how to produce a harvest to the maxim.
25 He who loves his life will lose it,
If we care more about our physical life than eternal life, we will lose the true purpose for our lives. Any idol we hold that involves our interests in this life will allow for no eternal value.
“Love” and “hate” in this verse are Semitic ideas that point to the thought of preferences toward life rather than actual love or hate. These words when used in a Semitic sense are hyperbole.
Losing one’s life is to accept the principle of God’s sovereign control over our lives. God has a right to direct our values.
and he who hates his life [earthly life] in this world
Hating life in this context means being willing to forfeit personal purposes for God’s eternal plan for us. Hating life in this world means that we must go through spiritual death to temporal values. One hating “his life” cares more for Christ than personal values.
It is important to realize that the idea of hate here is a semantic hyperbole, an overly emphatic statement to make a strong point. The point is that we are to live with priorities that are not our own; we put priority on God’s primacies. This is to live life beyond self.
will keep it for eternal life.
Those who believe in Christ will not pander to temporal things but to eternal. By living a life devoted to the Lord, come what may, we enjoy rich harvest in eternity. Only by spending our lives do we retain it. By service to the Lord comes greatness. The only possessions we take into eternity is what we did for the Lord. Everything else evaporates into the past. Those who live for others will harvest eternal blessings. We share Christ’s glory in serving others.
“Keep it for eternal life” means the sacrificial life during time will manifest itself in eternity. If our primary concern is to amass temporal things, this value will not carry over into eternity. The extent of our harvest is a single seed, not an abundant harvest.
Renunciation of living for self instead of God is at the heart of discipleship.
A seed unsown does not produce fruit. From an eternal perspective, death is the means of life. It is a paradox. Jesus’ death led to the eternal life of many. That same overarching principle is true for the believer. The Christian who lives with eternal values in view will have a productive life. It is a matter of setting our priorities right.
Only as we understand that the death and resurrection of Christ are linked together can we comprehend what appears to be a waste of life. If we place things of this physical life in highest value, it will result in devaluing eternal things.