Strong spirits: dying to self


Photo: shutterbugger/Flickr

Have you ever given up something that you really wanted? What? More importantly, why? What was your intention? What did you hope to accomplish? Did you know that self-denial is central to the Christian faith? Read on...

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Paul, writing to the church in Galatia (Galatians 2:20)

"...Have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God... made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant..." Paul again (Philippians 2:6,7)

"For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." Jesus to his followers (Luke 22:27)

Self-denial takes many forms. Essentially, it means putting the needs of others and/or the honor of God ahead of your own wishes, wants, and needs. Jesus modelled self-denial by leaving heaven of his own accord, and humbly becoming one of us. Because we were lost without him. Though he was God, he became a servant, and made the ultimate sacrifice of his life for us. That is ultimate self-denial.

But it takes much simpler forms, too, ones that we can all practice: putting someone else's feelings or needs first; being kind when you want to be snotty; working gladly at some odious task, simply for love.

I know. Most of us are not much inclined this way. But Jesus can help us. And he will. Ask him...

Gary Schwerin serves as pastor at Caledonia Congregational Church. He is also the Spiritual Development Minister for the YMCA of the Rock River Valley and Executive Director of Bridge Ministries of Rockford. Prior to launching Bridge Ministries, Gary spent many years in leadership with Young Life. His columns appear here every Sunday - to see them all, subscribe to our daily email.

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