Jesus says that any who would follow him must deny themselves and take up their crosses daily. Luke 9:23-24 says, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Ever notice how the world says the opposite of what the Lord says?
Jesus says: The World Says:
- Deny yourself • Indulge yourself
- Take up your cross • Take up your credit
- Follow me • Follow your heart
- Lose your life • Save yourself
We are bombarded daily with the world’s messages. We have to combat that with what Jesus says: To save your life in Christ, you must first lose it. What does that mean? Jesus wants the sinful nature to lessen in our lives. It’s the “sanctification process,” and it takes TIME. We’re to become more Christ-like. Does this mean Jesus wants us all to be clones of Him? NO! God is into diversity. Just look around you: nature, animals, people are so different. He wants you to be a BETTER you!
Why Do Believers Stop Denying Themselves?
For me it was disappointment in God. It was an unanswered prayer about my Dad. I had prayed to God for over 18 years for my father’s salvation, and although there were times when it looked like my Dad was coming along, he never did. Instead, he ended up committing suicide at the age of 72. That broke me. I never fully understood why it seemed prayers weren’t answered for my Dad. So for a season, I stopped taking up my cross daily. I didn’t deny myself. I indulged my mourning through spending money, and I pulled away from God for a season. That season was awful. I’ve been away from God before, when I was a non-believer (before the age of 25), and so I know what life is like without Him. It’s meaningless. So, I had to rekindle the fire because there was NO place for my soul to go. I know that God is good, so I need to trust Him about things I cannot understand.
We Need to be “All In”
In Matthew 4:18 – 22., four different men have their own moment of reckoning with Jesus. Each one leaves his nets (his vocation, the family business, his place of security) to follow Jesus. What is something that you left, or need to leave, as you follow Jesus with a heart that is all in? For me, God had me lay down my career, move to the Midwest where I knew no one, and was lonely at first. BUT a new identity was being formed in me—I was HIS daughter!
Now that my kids getting older, I asked God “what’s next?” I went back to school, and graduated in 2012 an AA degree in Christian Studies. At the graduation ceremony, I felt the call into ministry, but I wasn’t sure. I prayed that if this was His will for my life, I need more education. So, God provided a way for me to start the online Apologetics program at Biola University.
I laid down my old career, and now God is raising up a new one. I would have NEVER thought I would be getting a Master’s in apologetics! When you lay your life down for Him, He’ll open doors to exciting places!
Why should we live our lives denying ourselves for His purposes? Joshua 3:5 says, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Consecration means to be set apart. It demands full devotion. It is dethroning yourself and enthroning Jesus. It is the complete denial of all self-interest. It will cost you, but the reward is eternal. You’ll be storing treasures up in heaven!
Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him…
Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Walking with God is the best adventure I could be on! Even though the world tells you to “indulge yourself,” denying yourself instead will bring you into a better place with God. Reflect on what Jesus is asking you to deny. God promises to reward us in heaven, where you’ll live FOREVER… and that’s a long time.