Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me
We find these words of Jesus in all three of the Synopic Gospels (Matthew 16, Mark 8 and Luke 9.) I categorize these words under the rubric: “Stuff I wish Jesus hadn’t said.”
For they are hard words to digest and hard words to live out.
A few years ago when I was an interim pastor in Illinois I preached on this passage and decided to try to put in a practical way what these words meant for me. I developed some personal affirmations as an outgrowth of my commitment to Jesus and what I thought He was asking of me:
An increasing trust in God and His promises.
A decreasing reliance upon myself and my abilities.
Continued personal healing.
Daily surrender to Christ, my Lord and Savior.
To be teachable and correctable always.
To be humble before God and others.
To be responsible in all my doings.
To appropriate the grace given today.
To nurture a quiet, gentle spirit.
To experience increased serenity.
To turn over all anxiety to the One who controls my future.
To be merciful toward others.
To have wisdom in words and silence.
To have the discernment to act, not react.
To be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
To be totally obedient to the Lord’s will and word.
To be willing to change.
To take suggestions from church leaders and act on them in a conscientious way.
To exceed expectations, rather than meet expectations of the congregation.
I look at Jesus and am constantly amazed at His unforgettable life. Jesus, who teaches us to give up our lives and in so doing we paradoxically find the lives we always dreamed of.