We have to die to ourselves.
It’s that simple. Yet, it can be the most difficult lifestyle to apply.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said this:
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
That’s pretty clear and straightforward. Deny ourselves. It’s a phrase that’s used a lot in Christian circles, but do we truly know what it means to deny ourselves?
It means giving up all rights. All rights to be offended. All rights to be hurt. All rights to live in a way that doesn’t mirror the life of Jesus.
If we have boundaries, walls, or barriers built up, we haven’t died to ourselves.
The Gospel isn’t about us. It’s about the finished work of the Cross. We are birthed into this world with a self mentality because of what happened in the Garden. We are born with the mind of the enemy. We have to become born again and renew our mind so it’s aligned with the wisdom of God and not man.
If we’re allowing others to hurt us, then we are still slaves to selfishness. How can someone hurt us if we’re dead?
If we are offended by others, we haven’t yet denied ourselves. How can someone offend us if we’re dead?
People say “Well, you just don’t understand what I’ve been through.” Well, what about what Jesus went through? If He didn’t truly understand what dying to self meant, He would have removed Himself from the Cross and asked His Father to take Him back up to Heaven.
When Peter lopped off the ear of Malchus, Jesus healed him. Period. He knew what He was about to endure, and He healed one of the men who came to arrest Him in the garden. If Jesus was thinking about self or with the wisdom of man, He would have considered the cut off ear a form of justice. There is no way Malchus could have walked away from that unchanged. I’m sure he had blood all over himself and when people asked him what happened, he would have recalled the moment when Jesus restored his ear. I truly believe we will see Malchus in Heaven.
In the face of extreme injustice, Jesus never once thought about Himself. He was love personified. Love doesn’t seek it’s own. If we’re discouraged, then it’s all about us. We haven’t denied ourselves. If we require people to change or jump through hoops before we love them, then it’s all about us. If we complain about something, it’s all about us. The very act of complaining shows we have self in mind. It’s impossible to complain if we aren’t living for ourselves.
Here’s an example of a change I’ve made in my life. What is the first thing you do when you pull into the parking lot of Walmart or anywhere for that matter? Look for the closest spot. Why? Because we are born with the mindset of “me” first. Now, when we go shopping or out to eat, I park further back and leave the closest spots open. It may sound silly, but it’s one small step in dying to self and loving others. It completely rebels against living for self.
I am so done with living in my flesh. Walking and growing in love has been nothing short of amazing. I am already seeing God do some big things in different situations. Jesus paid much too high a price for me to complain, get hurt, or live by my feelings.
It’s amazing to think about all the things we do or say that seem right, and even sound like wisdom, but are all rooted in complete selfishness. Jesus humbled Himself, went through the entire human birthing process, became love, and shed His blood to reconcile us back to the Father. What a Savior we have. What an example to follow.
Let’s deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow that example with everything we are.