Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”—Matt 16:24
My left eye hurts and keeps on tearing probably because I’ve been given the wrong prescription for my spectacles. I’m thirsty from walking around all day running errands for my dad. The weather is unbearable—is the sun crazy? My head starts to ache because of the strain in my left eye, and I just want to complain to the first person on my WhatsApp contact list. I start the conversation ranting about my terrible day, but the topic slowly turns towards my friend’s even more terrible life. I’m so tired and I don’t really want to listen anymore, but—
die to yourself. I suddenly hear these words in my heart, and realize I must listen.
When I get home, my dad is in a bad mood—from what, I have no idea—and makes angry comments about something that happened to him. I ignore him and settle down in the same room because I know it will just upset him further if I go straight back to mine. He then asks me to get some orange juice from the fridge for him. I am still irritated and want to pretend I didn’t hear him but—
die to yourself. I hear these words in my heart again and realize I must obey.
My mum gets home really stressed about work, so I prepare dinner for her and get her some fruit so she can sit down and relax. She keeps talking but I want to talk about my problems too and not just listen to her all night. I start speaking, but she clearly hasn’t finished letting off all her steam, because she isn’t really listening. I feel undermined and upset but—
die to yourself. These words come up again and I realize I must give in.
Dying to yourself sounds like a very negative and drastic measure to take. But as we make everyday decisions to die for others, our hearts and attitudes will slowly change to reflect the heart of the Savior who gave His life for us. And as we look back on these everyday events, we’ll see the faithfulness of God in transforming our hearts and His relentlessness in pursuing us into His kingdom.
Jesus gave the ultimatum: if we want to be His disciples, we must deny ourselves, carry our cross and follow Him. What right do we have to be angry, to withhold forgiveness, to withhold grace and care? We are to deny these rights if we want to become real disciples of Jesus.
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”—John 12:25
Every day we will struggle with thousands of these little moments where we can choose to die to ourselves, or glorify ourselves and choose our own rights over that of others. Dying to self isn’t so much a dramatic occasion—it’s a thousand daily deaths to die.