What Did Jesus Mean by Hating One’s Life?

Have you ever come across the phrase “hate your life” in the Bible? It’s an interesting phrase that is often misunderstood.

Many people assume that it means we should despise our existence and wish we were never born. But is this really what Jesus meant when he said, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”? (John 12:25)

Let’s dive into this concept and understand what Jesus meant by hating one’s life.

What Does It Mean to Hate Your Life?

When Jesus said we should hate our lives, he did not mean that we should literally hate ourselves or our lives. Instead, he was speaking metaphorically. To hate your life means to let go of your own desires, ambitions, and priorities in order to follow Christ.

In Luke 14:26-27, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Here Jesus is telling us that following him requires complete commitment. We must be willing to put aside our own desires, even if they are good desires like love for our family or a desire for success or comfort.

Why Should We Hate Our Lives?

The reason Jesus tells us to hate our lives is because he wants us to put him first. In Matthew 10:37-39, he says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Jesus wants us to love him above all else because he knows that only in him can we find true life and fulfillment. When we prioritize our own desires above Christ, we are actually losing our lives because we are missing out on the abundant life that he offers.

In Mark 8:35, Jesus says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

When we let go of our own desires and follow Christ wholeheartedly, we are actually gaining our lives. We are finding the purpose and fulfillment that can only be found in him.

How Can We Hate Our Lives?

So how can we practically hate our lives and follow Christ? It starts with a heart change. We must recognize that our own desires and ambitions are not ultimate and that only in Christ can we find true purpose and fulfillment.

Once we have this heart change, we can begin to align our actions with this new perspective. This might mean sacrificing time or resources to serve others or to share the gospel.

It might mean choosing to forgive someone who has wronged us instead of seeking revenge. It might mean putting aside our own plans for success or comfort in order to follow where God is leading us.

A Final Word

Hating your life does not mean despising your existence or wishing you were never born. It means putting aside your own desires in order to follow Christ wholeheartedly. When you do this, you will find the abundant life that Jesus promised.

As you seek to follow Christ, remember his words in Matthew 16:24-25: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”