Monday, December 10th, 2012
Self-Denial (Part 1: A Call To Action)
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.'
Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, 'Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'
Mark 8:34 (NKJV)
If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luke 9:23 (NKJV)
Between 27 and 29 AD, Jesus of Nazareth began His ministry, and our world changed forever. His example of humility can never be matched, but we are commanded to try--beginning with self-denial. 'Self-denial' is 'the sacrifice of one's own desires; unselfishness' (Random House).
In 1687 Matthew Henry became an ordained minister, and his six-volume Bible commentary is studied today. Reverend Henry said, 'The first lesson in Christ's school is self-denial.'
Over a century later, Charles Spurgeon was called the 'Prince of Preachers.' He said, 'I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this: that I may die to self, and live wholly to Him.'
Fast forward to Billy Graham, one of the most famous evangelists of the 20th century. This advisor to nations, presidents, and 2.2 billion people has given us a dire warning: 'Self-centered indulgence, pride, and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle. My heart aches for America and its deceived people.'
'Self-indulgence' is defined as 'excessive or unrestrained gratification of one's own appetites, desires, or whims' (Merriam-Webster).
Undeniably, our 'get it now,' 'gotta have it' American theme song beats in opposition to Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and Jesus Christ. Could this massive corruption be coming from our own United States--the land of the free and home of 247 million professing Christians?*
'For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there' (James 3:16). Is this our legacy to the world?
To Be Continued...
*Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2011, www.pewforum.org/Christian/Global-Christianity-americas.aspx
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Self-Denial series.