When Jesus says that anyone who would follow him, must first deny himself, what does He mean?
Consider all the ways your life is characterized by self-centeredness. It could like any of the following, several of them, or something else altogether:
- Staying in bed a few more minutes, while the kids are rummaging through the pantry for food
- Putting the kids to bed too early, at night, so you can have some “me-time”
- Reading a book, again, instead of playing with your children
- Yelling or screaming at others to “please just give me some peace and quiet”
- Swinging by Starbucks after you go get groceries, even though that’s not really in your budget
- Going to shoot some hoops with your buddies while your wife is at home, alone
Most of these things are not sinful, by themselves; however, I asked you to consider if your life was characterized by any of these things (or similar ones you are thinking of right now.)
That is, could someone look at your life, from the outside and see these types of things in your life, so much so that they would call you a self-centered person?
If so, then this is what Jesus is talking about.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
For the disciple of Christ – you, if you confess Jesus as your Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead – following Christ starts with denying yourself.
Pray for God’s help to see clearly the ways self-centeredness characterizes parts of your life and repent. Thank Him that what He calls us to do, daily – deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him – is something He also gives us resources for.
That’s right! God supplies what we need in order to obey His Word.
Check this out, and note the frequency with which we deny ourselves, is the same frequency with which God gives us mercies!
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:21-24