The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel's will save it.
Because God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:9), it seems strange that we gain life from death. But God loves a good paradox.
The dictionary defines 'paradox' as 'a statement that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth.' When God is speaking, the truth is not possible but absolute. I like G.K. Chesterton's definition of paradox: 'Truth standing on her head to attract attention.'
Supernatural exchanges like strength from weakness, exaltation from humility, leading from serving, receiving from giving, victory from defeat, glory from suffering, joy from pain, and beauty from ashes get our attention. They make us stop and wonder. Is it foolishness, or is it true? Is it both?
'For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God' (1 Corinthians 3:19). 'Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men' (1 Corinthians 1:25).
Therefore, true freedom comes only from surrender to God. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, puts it this way: 'The greatness of a man's power is the measure of his surrender.' Personally speaking, I'm still working on that measure. Perhaps for us all, surrender is a process.
But a necessary condition of surrender is self-denial. 'For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?' (Mark 8:36). We must deny ourselves to be filled, and lower ourselves to be lifted. Like Jesus.
Note: Self-Denial (Part 8, Children) may not have arrived in email inboxes on December 17th (we are still investigating). Part 8 is available to read and can be accessed by clicking here. Please accept our apologies.
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Self-Denial series.