"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. 16:25).
On the face of it nothing can be more contradictory than to say that to save one's life is to lose it, and to lose one's life is to find it. Sometimes this paradox is explained by declaring that Jesus had two different kinds of life in view. We are told that Jesus meant us to sacrifice a lower life for a higher, an earthly and a temporal life for a spiritual and an eternal, the life of the body for the life of the soul. We are taken, for the noblest instance and proof of this interpretation, to the Roman amphitheatre. We are shown the martyrs awaiting the onrush of the lions. As they are set upon by the hungry and merciless beasts, and as the mangled remains of their bodies are carried away we are told to see in their tragic loss their splendid gain. They have lost their lives for Christ's sake, but they have found the life eternal. But the martyrs' loss and gain touches the fringe, but only the fringe, of Christ's truth.
Jesus has enshrined a deeper meaning in His paradox. He is stating a law of universal life. He does not mean two different kinds of life, a lower and a higher, set in contrast. He is thinking of the same life in each case. He is stating the still unaccepted and, for many men, incredible truth, that to be eager to save life is the way to lose it, and that the way to find it is to be willing to lose it, and, if need be, to pour it out in a splendid waste.