For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
All Commentaries on Matthew 16:25 Go To Matthew 16
Then, because the saying seemed to be vehement, see how He softens it by what follows, and sets down rewards surpassing our toils; and not rewards only, but also the penalties of vice: nay, on these last He dwells more than on those, since not so much His bestowing blessings, as His threat of severities, is wont to bring ordinary men to their senses. See at least how He both begins here from this, and ends in this.
Now what He says is like this: not as unsparing towards you, but rather as exceedingly sparing you, I enjoin these things. For he who spares his child, ruins it; but he who spares it not, preserves. To which effect also a certain wise man said, If you beat your son with a rod, he shall not die, but you shall deliver his soul from death. Proverbs 23:13-14 And again, He that refreshes his son, shall bind up his wounds. Sirach 30:7
This takes place in the camp also. For if the general, sparing the soldiers, commands them to remain within the place always, he will destroy with them the inhabitants too.
In order then that this may not happen in your case also, says He, ye must be arrayed against continual death. For now too a grievous war is about to be kindled. Sit not therefore within, but go forth and fight; and should you fall in your post, then have you obtained life. For if in the visible wars he that in his post meets slaughter, is both more distinguished than the rest, and more invincible, and more formidable to the enemy; although we know that after death the king, in behalf of whom he takes his station, is not able to raise him up again: much more in these wars, when there are such hopes of resurrection besides, will he who exposes his own life unto death, find it; in one sense, because he will not be quickly taken; in a second, because even though he fall, God will lead his life on to a higher life.
Then, because he had said, He who will save shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose shall save it, and on that side had set salvation and destruction, and on this salvation and destruction; to prevent any one's imagining the one destruction and salvation to be all the same with the other, and to teach you plainly that the difference between this salvation and that is as great as between destruction and salvation; from the contraries also He makes an inference once for all to establish these points. For what is a man profited, says He, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Do you see how the wrongful preservation of it is destruction, and worse than all destruction, as being even past remedy, from the want of anything more to redeem it? For tell me not this, says He, that he that has escaped such dangers has saved his life; but together with his life put also the whole world, yet what profit has he thereby, if the soul perish?
For tell me, should you see your servants in luxury, and yourself in extreme calamity, will you indeed profit anything by being master? By no means. Make this reckoning then with regard to your soul also, when the flesh is in luxury and wealth, and she awaiting the destruction to come.