Saturday, April 12, 2008

SELF-DENIAL - IS THE WAY TO LIVE!

Selfishness is a basic characteristic of fallen human nature. Part of a child’s early vocabulary are the words, “my” and “mine.” Sharing and giving up our desires does not come naturally. It is a process which we need to work at throughout our lifetime.

The perfect and ultimate example of self-denial of course is Jesus. We can’t imagine what self-denial it took to give up the glories of heaven and come to this sinful world. Or think of the painful self-denial in the garden of Gethsemane when he prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”(a) There is no greater self-denial! Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. (b)

Human nature is to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. A person may unconsciously think he is saving his life by living selfishly, but in reality he is losing it. On the other hand if we “turn from our selfish ways” and do what God requires, we will experience joy and an awareness of His pleasure.

The other day I had a lot to get done and another unexpected task came up, and selfishly not considering that Donna had her own hands full, I asked her to take care of it. And the Lord brought today’s scripture to my mind - “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” I knew immediately I needed to take care of the unexpected task myself. As I did, there was this warm sense of God’s pleasure filling my heart.

This principle works on every level of life - whether it’s denying our self and spending time, energy and resources to help a neighbor, or whether it is denying our self and setting aside our anger and hurt feelings to forgive someone who has hurt us. Whatever the issue may be, the results will always be the same. Self-denial “for Christ’s sake” always results in experiencing God’s pleasure.

In places where Christians are severely persecuted, self-denial may mean making the choice between denying Christ and living or denying one’s self and ending up dead. To deny Christ would mean eternal death, but to die “for Christ’s sake” results in eternal life.

When Jesus faced the choice of saving His life, or giving it up for us, He chose to deny Himself and die because He knew dying in our behalf would make life possible for us, so “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.”(c)


Lets Pray-
Thank You Jesus, for showing us how to really live by denying ourselves, like you did. But Lord, it is one thing to see your example, and quite something different to follow it. Please help us.
Amen


Footnotes:
(a) Matthew 26:39 NLT, (b) Matthew 16:24-25 NLT, (c) Hebrews 12:2 KJV


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1 comment:

James said...

Thanks, Iver & Donna, for this posting. Your comments validated a very recent experience I had setting aside my plans to help another.

Journeyman