The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. —John 12:25
As long as others are looking over our shoulders to see what we are doing or saying, we will cling to our reputation. But we will not see God's best fulfilled in us.
What will be the consequences if we do live like this? First, the other side of emptying yourself is really trusting God for the outcome. When we let go of ourselves, we affirm God's manner of working things out. As long as you hold on to yourself, you may not be impoverished, but you lose the fruitful outcome. Indeed, this verse says that you do not even aspire to it. But when you let it go, surprise, surprise, you get it back a hundredfold! It means, therefore, that you trust God for the outcome. It may not be the way you would have done it, but remember that, as Christians, we have a loving heavenly Father who is all powerful and able to give what is best.
He still speaks to us. Give up your Isaac; give up your valued possession . . .your uncertain future . . .your ego . . .your reputation . . .and trust God for the outcome. It will be fun to see what He does!
Second, having looked to God for the outcome, what is that outcome going to be? In the short term there is peace and the presence of God. Peter advocated that we "cast all [our] anxiety on him, because he cares for [us]" (1 Pet. 5:7). That is what will give you such a release within. In the long term, there is a reward worth waiting for—to hear from the lips of God Himself, "Well done."
Let go of yourself, empty yourself, and be filled with all the fullness of God. Leave the outcome to God, and you will know joy beyond compare.
Excerpted from Meekness and Majesty (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1992, 2000).