Last Sunday, I explored Luke 9:23-27 which offers us a look into how Jesus defines who a true disciple of His is. One of the marks of a true disciple is that he or she lives a life of self-denial – literally a life where one strives to disown oneself. This is the exact opposite of what our culture encourages us to do. We live in a “selfie-saturated, I like me and I want you to know I’m the best thing since sliced bread, I can be anything I want to be as long as I dream and work hard” society. Quite the opposite of what Jesus calls for.
The Apostle Paul understood that self-denial was required to be follower of Jesus, so in Philippians 3:7-8, he declares, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
If we desire to be genuine disciples of Jesus, we must live lives of growing self-denial. Here’s the list I mentioned on Sunday as to how you know if you’re growing in this area:
When you’re not forgiven, or neglected or purposely ignored (even though it hurts and stings) you’re able to find contentment and even joy because you’ve been counted worthy to suffer just like Jesus did…that’s dying to self.
When your desires aren’t realized, your advice is disregarded, your opinions are ridiculed (even though it hurts and stings), you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or to even defend yourself, but you take it practicing self-control…that’s dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear frustration and annoyances; when you have to face foolishness, extravagance, or spiritual insensitivity (even though you may want to scream), you endure it as Jesus endured it…that’s dying to self.
When you’re content with any food, any offering, any clothes, any climate, any society, any job, any situation (even though you’re tempted to complain, you don’t)…that’s dying to self.
When you fight the temptation to promote yourself or to record your own good works, or to seek commendation – when you’re ok to be unknown…that’s dying to self.
When you see another person prosper and you can honestly rejoice and fight off feelings of envy and not question God even if you’re needs are great…that’s dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from someone and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, that’s dying to self.