I’ve been reading more of The Amazing Life of the Disciple of Christ, a book I received from my Jamaican brothers and sisters in July. There was a section that especially stood out to me about self denial.
The bible says that in order to follow after Jesus you first have to deny yourself. Self, as my book says, “is at the center of its own existence”. It goes to great lengths to protect itself and to follow it’s will. Self is about us, our image and our goals. There was a list of characteristics that described self. Needless to say, it presented narcissism in its purest form. Some of tbe characteristic are some that have greatly improved in the last year. For others, however, I found myself identifying with them. There’s that part of me that still gets caught up in solving problems apart from God, wanting self-preservation, and caring about the thought of others. My book emphasized the words of Matthew 16.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV
By denying my self, I find my life and purpose in Jesus Christ. I become liberated as I let go of what this world uses to determine a sense of self as well as the opinions and standards of others. Instead I take the identity and new life I have through Jesus and allow who he is to change every aspect of my being. In that, I find who I am.
Do you find yourself in the same boat? You come to realize there are areas that need to be changed so you can be a better disciple and stronger witness of Jesus. Don’t look at it with sadness. Look at it with joy knowing that God desires to make us stronger and better with each passing day. It’s like when Ezra and Nehemiah taught the Israelites what it meant to be God’s people and the fact they weren’t doing what they should’ve been made the Israelites sad.
“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.”
Nehemiah 8:9-12 NKJV
Now that I know better, I will do better with the joy of the Lord as my strength. I hope all of you will make the same declaration today. One of the new blessings and mercies God gave today is another chance to get things right, to make a better choice for a better future. Take full advantage of that and allow God to work in you.