Deny oneself. Pick up one's cross. Follow Jesus. (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)
While these verses are
quotable, I wonder how it looks to apply them to our lives.
Self-denial implies self-sacrifice and...well, denying myself things
that I want. Although there are others out there who are living with more stuff and less self-denial, how well I am denying myself does not depend on comparison. I know that while I could be more self-indulgent than I am, I am not exactly denying myself.
A cross is a heavy, instrument of torture and death. It
might get in the way of how I live my life. What is my cross? What is my burden? What am I doing out of love and duty for Christ?
Follow Jesus. Surely this
command means more than to just attend church, throw a bill in the
offering plate, read my Bible, and recite prayers. Surely it means to
study Jesus, to emulate Him, to seek His input, and to follow His
It is a common practice to seek out the reassuring promises of Jesus and God throughout
the Bible, but also within the same holy pages are commands that those
who love God as called to obey (read 1 John for more details). These
include instructions to be generous, share the gospel with the lost, and
even sell our possessions & give to the poor (see Luke 12:33).
While we typically tie that last instruction as one specifically given
to the rich young ruler in Mark 7:17-27, it was also given in Luke to
Jesus' disciples. Therefore, if I am a follower of Christ, then that
command applies to me as well.
Luke 9:23 has become especially meaningful of late. Then Jesus said to them all, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me."