Then Jesus said to the disciples, “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 will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
I don’t think I’ve ever been excited to jump out of bed just to deny myself for the day. This command sounds pretty harsh coming from a loving God, but he is not being harsh or cruel. He’s speaking about the daily commitment of being a disciple. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He is Elohim, the strong Creator. He is El Elyon, the Almighty God. He gets to call the shots on what he created. Dr. Tony Evans says, “If you want to make your own rules, go and create your own world.”
This is all still sounding pretty harsh… Hopefully, I can help you shift your perspective. God is the only one that knows you personally, privately, and intimately in every way. He knows exactly why He created you before you were in your mother’s womb (Psm.139:3-16). He knows all that you could ever accomplish in this life, and he wants that for you! In order to be all that God created you to be, you must say no to the things your flesh craves and say yes to the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you. This is called yielding to the Holy Spirit. This must happen on a daily basis, moment by moment at times. Living in obedience to God opens the doors to every spiritual blessing God has for you (Eph.1:3). But that only comes through obedience.
To deny yourself daily doesn’t mean you’re signing up for a boring miserable life. It means that you are making yourself available for God to use you in the greatest capacity! It means to live fully as your loving God intended.
When you hear the phrase “deny yourself,” what comes to mind? Perhaps you might notice a twinge of something—could it be resistance? Fear? Confusion? Spend some time praying, consider journaling as well, and ask God to reframe your understanding if need be.
Wow! We’ve spent another week in one chapter of the Bible. Well done! Today, review the chapter once more. What stands out to you the most from the week? Consider memorizing the verse that speaks loudest to you. If you’re more on the creative side of things, consider how you can artistically convey what God taught you this week through a drawing or word art, perhaps. Then, take some time to pray and ask God to show you how this chapter of the Bible speaks to your current situation in life.