Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
We find or lose our lives by degrees. It typically happens in installments.
We find our lives by daily choosing our own will over that of God. It is important to realize that it is indeed an either/or decision. It cannot be both. Sin has turned our heart away from God. We do not naturally desire the things He commands. Without a conscious effort to choose His will, we can be pretty sure we are pursuing our own- contrary to His. This is what our Lord means when He refers to finding our life.
To lose our life means just the opposite. We choose to follow God's will contrary to our own. Again, this takes place by degrees. It comes in installments. We do not choose once to follow the Lord and that settles it for a lifetime. Rather, we must choose daily, even moment by moment, that we will obey God. As we do, we are losing our life. Incidentally, we may be persuaded to see in this verse the call to martyrdom. We may think that Jesus is telling us that if it comes down to it, and we must give our lives for our faith, then we must be willing to do so. Certainly, that is a part of it. But we will never choose martyrdom if we have not chosen the smaller "deaths" on a daily basis. This call of our Lord is something that must be lived out every day.
So how will I live this out? Well, it's Monday, and Mondays are crazy, as they are for many of us. There will be many demands made on my time. Numerous people will be asking for my help. It can all get pretty crazy sometimes. Thanks be to God! For He has provided the perfect setting for me to learn to die daily. I will have multiple opportunities today to choose the cross rather than my own comfort. I pray I will be up to the challenge, and, if I fail, that by God's grace I will keep trying.
What about the smaller "deaths"? There are so many. Will I choose the cross in my meals? In slight conveniences? In comfort? With my leisure time? In my family? The list goes on and on. The truth is that we are faced with this decision countless times throughout a day.
Must we fulfill this command perfectly or risk damnation? I doubt it. One would have to be perfected. Yet, there is no mistaking that this is the road the Lord calls us to travel. By His grace we will succeed.