“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
What’s your greatest challenge as Jesus’ disciple? My greatest challenge is an ever-present formidable foe that keeps me from having a heart of humility. From birth, I’ve wrestled with self-centered tendencies. I’ve discovered that, as an authentic Christ-follower, I must resolve to defy and deny the human heart’s most persuasive hereditary affliction called “self”.
In Mark 8, Jesus clarifies the sobering criteria for following him. One must deny self, take up one’s cross, follow, lose one’s life, and consequently, save one’s life. Initially, his declaration seems unreasonable and unachievable.
The most persuasive influence in the human heart – that ever-present predisposition that conflicts with unconstrained submission to God’s will – is self. Why? Simply said, self and Christ cannot both rule. One must submit to the other. This is the non-negotiable criteria of being Jesus’ disciple. Denying self allows God to edify and sanctify us, conforming us to the image of Jesus as a credible witness to a fallen world that overvalues self.
Wrestling with and denying self is never easy. It is the daunting lifelong cross to bear and a challenge for every believer. But it is the compulsory cost of following Jesus. A daily, moment-by-moment, intentional resolve to realign the heart to prioritize God’s will for our lives is a disciple’s rite of passage.
Realign your heart. Immerse yourself in God’s Word. Allow him to renew your mind, transform your perspective, and influence your will. You will encounter a life severed from self that authentically reflects Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of following you. Help me to defy and deny self. Realign my heart and will. As I daily immerse myself in your Word, renew my mind, transform my heart, and empower me to authentically reflect Jesus to those within my sphere of influence. Amen.
By Allan Mitchell
Used by Permission
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