“And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].” Luke 9:23 (AMP)
Ah yes…the hurdle of self. A barrier placed at specific intervals along your journey. An obstacle that must be overcome. A problem or difficulty that must be mastered. An attempt to circumvent it is to disqualify oneself from the race. An inability or unwillingness to get over it is certain to cause injury. Self…that’s you. The only way to preserve oneself and remain in the race is to completely clear this hurdle.
The thing is, what is required of us per Luke 9:23 severely conflicts with our inherently selfish and sinful nature. It seems that the way we are called to operate along this Christian walk is so counterintuitive or “contrary to what common sense would suggest.” Essentially, it’s all about you. You can be whatever you want to be. “Follow your dreams” and do what makes you happy. But no. That’s actually the worst advice ever. Consider the example of Christ:
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16 (AMP)
Christ…the Ultimate Sacrifice. When I think of the word “sacrifice,” I think of giving up something in order to address a need. I think of something very costly. When a person makes one, they are ascribing a higher value and worth to the one to whom it is being presented. Most importantly, I believe that every sacrifice requires a rather high degree of selflessness.
Perhaps this is why it’s so overwhelming. It’s the “didn’t have to do it, but He did” aspect of it. It wasn’t a mere inconvenience to Him. It wasn’t the kind of “sacrifice” that makes you feel awesome inside. No. It cost Him greatly to save us from our sins and ourselves. There was no guarantee that there would be a 100% return on His investment. However, He considered us worth it. He put us first and He offered up His Son because He loved us. Accordingly, the only appropriate response is to make it all about Him on a forever basis.
How much it costs you to live for Him matters greatly to God. Your willingness to set yourself aside in pursuit of His pleasure is never for nothing. Obedience to His voice and His Word. Doing the right thing, even when it hurts. Believing and wholeheartedly trusting in Him when your circumstances tell a very different story. Holding everything you love, value and cherish with an open hand. In doing these things, you’re saying, “God, You come first.” You never compromise the validity of your sacrifice with such a lifestyle.
Lord, I could never thank You enough for the sacrifice You made on Calvary. In Your death and rising, You have allowed me the consistency and momentum to clear every one of life’s hurdles. As You help me to become more proficient at getting over myself, I pray that the small token of my life and all of its contents will be an acceptable sacrifice to You.