Have you ever read a well known verse in the Bible many times over the years and then suddenly got something new out of it?
I have read the verse below numerous times before...
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…” (Matthew 16:24)
Specifically, it was the phrase "let him deny himself" that brought out something new. I had mused over this phrase many times and had likened it to "don’t be so self centred”, “try to think of others”, “go easy on the comfort food” etc. etc. Maybe I was too busy contemplating the second half of the verse, where we are told to take up our cross and follow Jesus. I don’t know about you but if this is a definition of a true Spirit-led Christian, I come up very short. An uncomfortable thought indeed!
So to ‘deny ourselves’, what does it really entail? We need look no further than the life of Jesus. No-one has denied himself more than the Lamb of God…
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 53:3)
To help me further with this Thought, I had a wee search on-line. Please read what I unearthed. The author is unknown but it helped me have a much clearer picture of what it is to ‘die to self’. Hopefully these words will help you do the same…
When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that is dying to self.
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take in all in patient, loving silence, that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any unpunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility -- and endure it as Jesus endured, that is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any raiment, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, that is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, that is dying to self.
And to finish for this month, here is the Amplified Bible’s translation of Philippians 2:8, talking about Jesus…
And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
...and our text again from Matthew 16:24
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me…”
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!