Jesus is speaking here, to His disciples, as well as a large crowd.
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, (Jesus) said,
"If any of you wants to be my follower,
you must turn from your selfish ambitions,
take up your cross,
and follow me.
35 If you try to hang on to your life,
you will lose it.
But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News,
you will save it.
36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
37 Is anything worth more than your soul?
38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
In another recorded teaching, this time by mark, Jesus makes it plain that holding a death grip on your own wants & desires is a very problematic approach to life.
Jesus contrasts a life of “selfish ambition” to one of letting loose of our lives & basically telling God we're surrendered to whatever He has in mind for us.
Jesus also says in a straightforward way that the former attitude leads to a dead end, while the latter attitude results in a life we will be thankful to have led.
And then Jesus says in another account a statement that seems such an appropriate reminder...
“what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”
We seem to have a plethora of people in the forefront of our collective consciousness who seem to have “gained the whole world”,
but also make one wonder if they are prime candidates to lose their souls in the process.
Basically, Jesus is addressing the folly of living a life so self absorbed & self centered.
It's a dead end.
It doesn't work.
He points out that a truly sustainable life can only be found in letting go of our lives
& trusting God to guide us through this mine field called life.
So the question for all of us is have we let go of our lives to the point where God is free to express the life He dreamed up for each of us a gajillion years ago?