And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23-25)
Sometimes I can’t stand the human in me. I see this wonderful light that God has so graciously placed in my life and sometimes I take it for granted. Life can grab a hold of us, and, if we aren’t aware, we can stumble. I am guilty of this. I am so thankful for God’s grace, and I just want to live more like Jesus, but the human in me tends to seep through the cracks. I get frustrated because, sometimes, my mind races with thoughts and feelings I know don’t come from Jesus. They come from the human part of me, from the flesh. Sometimes, I get angry, jealous, fearful, ungrateful, unforgiving, and seriously lacking in self-control. As I recall, these aren’t the fruits of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Jesus in Luke 9:23 tells us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him. Deny ourselves? Yes, deny ourselves, because if we are full of ourselves there is no room for Jesus in our life. I don’t know about you, but I am so full of myself sometimes.
We get so concerned about how we look, how we feel, and if life is fair or not. Why does it matter if life is fair? If we, as Christians, truly believe that our lives aren’t our own, does it matter if life is fair? Choosing Jesus guarantees that we will face persecution (Matthew 10:22), and if we live somewhere where this persecution is not a daily reality, we should be so grateful. In countries like North Korea and Iran, our brothers and sisters are killed for calling themselves Christians. The Bible says we will be hated for our faith. Sometimes I sit and stew in my hardships and cry out to God, “Why?!” as if He hasn’t done enough for me already.
He gave me joy, but I still get angry. He gave me grace, yet I sin. I am called to keep my heart pure, but I’ve struggled with lust. He forgave me, but there is that one person I cannot seem to forgive. Who am I to withhold forgiveness? God forgave a sinner like me, but I still withhold forgiveness from others. That isn’t Christ-like, not at all. No, that’s the human in me; that’s the flesh. These are some of the things that we are to deny in ourselves. These are the worst part of humanity that we continue to cling to.
What good is indulging in ourselves or in the things of this world? We want more money, a better car, more friends, a different family, but when will we be satisfied? According to Luke 9:24 it does us no good to gain the world. We will lose our life if we cling to it. But if we let go, trust in Jesus, and deny our flesh… we will be rich in our spirits. If we really follow Jesus, there is nothing in this world that can separate us from the love of God.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38)
Nothing can separate us from God, but we still need to choose Him. I can tell you from personal experience when I stop choosing Him and give in to “being human,” I am seriously lacking in joy; it’s a slippery slope. That’s not what God wants for me. There is nothing worse than feeling far from God, but He is never far because He has “forsaken us.” If He seems far, it is because we’ve turned away from Him, because we have chosen ourselves over Jesus. If we continually seek His face, we will find it. That is a promise you can stand on.
But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29)