“Deny Yourself.” Wait, what? The world and our culture as a whole has a really difficult time defining what those two words mean. Deny Yourself, you mean don’t buy that new I-Phone 5? I mean the 4s is so last year. You mean that I shouldn’t just buy the newest greatest thing even though its the newest and greatest. How dare Jesus ask us to deny ourselves. I mean it must have been so much easier in Bible times. I mean think about it what are they sacrificing, the greatest new sandal to hit the Mediterranean? They didn’t know what it was like to fall behind the trends, I mean I am the ONLY person without an I-Pad.
I hope you as a reader of OneBeatBlog catch the sarcasm in my voice. Rarely ever do I not have some sort of sarcastic comment. The fact of the matter is, Jesus has called us to deny ourselves, and I have come to a new realization not only of what that may look like, but what that means. Before I talk about my new and nifty take on the scripture, how about we actually dive into the scripture first.
I want to dive into the book of Luke, and if you don’t know the background: Luke is a doctor who was very meticulous about how he arranged and organized both the book of Luke as well as the book of Acts (or at least I think that Luke wrote the book of Acts). So here Jesus has just fed 5,000 men, not to mention the women and children, and now it’s time to teach. I don’t know if you realize this or not, but people simply didn’t feed 5,000+ people at one time back then. Most restaurants don’t do that kind of business now and that’s with the best equipment, so the feeding alone is a really big deal! Now Jesus has the opportunity to share with these 5,000+ and this is what Luke says:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…” — Luke 9:23 (ESV)
Now I could go a million different directions here but I want to be very specific about the deny himself part of this passage. See if people struggle with putting other people or other agendas ahead of our own. This is evidenced by the way children hoard toys during playtime. “Mine” becomes the word of choice here. However, as I was studying this passage something really hit me. Jesus wants us to deny ourselves so that we can be more free.
SELF DENIAL = FREEDOM
I know many of us have trouble with this idea, but let me paint you a picture from my childhood. When I was in middle school I looked around and noticed that I was the only kid not getting an allowance, or so I thought. Now I put in my fair share of work around the house. I did mom’s list of chores, carried logs when we cut down trees, and laid more shovels of mulch than I care to recall, but I never received an allowance for my hard work.
One day I decided that I was going to have a business conversation with my father. My middle school business mind was churning, and I approached my dad with my desire. Guess what, my dad said yes! However, there were some stipulations if I were to receive an allowance. I would have to pay for my own clothes, food, school supplies, etc. I don’t know if you see where I’m going with this, but the simple math started to add up and I knew that my allowance was not going to cover all of my desires along with all of my needs. The fact is that by denying myself an allowance, I freed myself up to receive a much greater blessing from my dad. He could’ve given me an allowance, and I probably would have wasted it on POGs, video games, and candy. However, if I allowed my dad to provide I knew I wouldn’t get as much of the stuff I “wanted”, but I would be totally provided for.
Sometimes we look at this passage and say, “God is trying to ruin my fun. I have to deny all the fun things in my life.” See the thing is, you can control all the things in your life and you will probably waste it. I’m sure we’ve all seen people do this. Option number 2 is that you can trust God with everything and know that your needs are always going to be taken care of. I don’t know why it has taken me this long to realize it, but denying myself doesn’t mean I miss out, it means I open myself up to be blessed beyond my own means!
SELF DENIAL = FREEDOM
Posted on July 30, 2012, in Christian Living and tagged Bible, Christianity, Church, Church Ministry, Family, Family Ministry, Leadership, Pastor, Religion, Student, Student Ministry, Youth, Youth Ministry, Youth Pastor. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.