And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
Americans were shocked in World War II when Japanese fighter pilots—called kamikazes—flew their planes directly into Allied battleships. But there is a distinct and biblical difference between dying willingly to take life and dying willingly to give life. The people of God have always been willing to give their lives that others might live.
Even those who die for less than honorable reasons express a thread that has run throughout human history: Without something to die for, there is nothing to live for. Three Hebrew men were willing to die for God in Babylon (Daniel 3), and tradition says that all of Jesus’ disciples, plus many others throughout history, willingly died for His sake and for the kingdom of God. The book of Revelation tells us there will be many martyrs for Christ during the Tribulation on earth. Whether we die for Christ in this life or not, Jesus calls all disciples to carry our cross—our willingness to die as He died—with us daily.
A willingness to die for our faith is one thing. But a willingness to live for Him means dying to ourselves a thousand times daily so that His will might be done in us.
It is far less important to die the martyr’s death than to live the martyr’s life.
Robert E. Speer