Denying Self

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” –John 13:17

Doing is hard. It can be painful, time-consuming, not pleasurable, and wearying. I want to be free from whatever struggle it is that I am currently facing, but I don’t always want to work hard for it. I don’t want to sacrifice for it. I want to just continue on with my normal life, be free of the struggles that are hindering me from living it, and move on. Isn’t that what God wants for my life? He doesn’t want me to struggle daily with burdens, to have to persevere in doing hard things.

I was reading Luke, and once again was convicted as I came upon this verse. “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” (Lk. 9:23) Jesus wants me to take up my cross daily and follow Him. But crosses are hard things – painful things. Yet Jesus says that those who want to be His disciples must submit to Him, and submit to the reality that every day of our lives will be the taking up of a cross, and the following of Him. It’s not a bad day when I have to shoulder that cross and look to Jesus. It’s a day when I am doing what Jesus requires of His disciples. Besides, Jesus never healed anyone so they could move on with their lives – He healed them so that they could follow Him.

This life of following Jesus daily – of taking up my cross – it’s a sacrificial life. It’s a life where I have to let go completely of this world and of myself. And if I want to see fruit in my life – if I want to see myself being freed from struggles and moving forward in my relationship with Jesus, it’s going to take sacrifice. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” I cannot sow sparingly in my spiritual walk and expect to reap an abundant harvest. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8) Jesus isn’t something that gets half of my life or even most of it. He gets it all, and He is worthy of it all. And when I am willing to sow to please the Spirit, then I will reap. When I am willing to do that which Jesus has led me to, despite its difficulty, then I will be blessed.

The best part of this sacrificial sowing of the Spirit is the reward. “…Whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”, and “Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) There is no better reward than knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ. And Jesus is worthy. He is worthy of all my love, devotion, loyalty, worship, praise, and surrender. He is worth taking up a cross daily for. He is worth surrendering and sacrificing my life for. He is worth everything I could possibly give. There is no amount of tears, no amount of time spent in painful sowing, no amount of patient sacrifice that is not worth the prize of knowing Jesus more. Taking up crosses is hard and wearying; Sowing to please the Spirit is sacrificial and daily, but there is no greater prize that could be set before me. And God is faithful, when I surrender to Him, when I sacrifice and give my all, He is so faithful and good to bring about an abundant harvest. So, looking to Jesus, and setting my eyes on the joy and prize set before me, I choose to endure my crosses, to sacrifice myself, and to receive My Prize. Jesus is true, better, and fuller life – a prize well worth living for.

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