December 7, 2016
READ: Luke 9:21-27
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it (vv.23-24).
Charlie has given up everything to care for Sarah. The life they knew has slowly deteriorated with Sarah’s early onset of Alzheimer’s. Charlie has rearranged his schedule to more effectively care for her. He cooks, cleans, bathes, administers medicine, and makes sure Sarah is able to get to and from the bathroom even when her body fails. He cherishes her in sickness, health, disappointment, and frailty. Great love drives him to selflessly give up his life for her whether she knows it or not.
Charlie’s sacrificial decision to give up everything to care for his ailing spouse reminds me of what it means to “take up [our crosses] daily” (Luke 9:23-24). Only love enables him to continue to die daily to those things that would draw him from caring for Sarah (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-8). When we’re truly in love with Jesus, our hearts become devoted to Him. We want to spend every waking minute in His presence to become more like Him. We want to do whatever it takes to live like Jesus.
To live as He lives and love as He loves—to do what is required—means making sacrifices. We have to turn from our selfish tendencies—our plans and our desires—in order to follow our Savior’s example. To put it differently, love calls us to carry our cross (a symbol of death) even as we learn to put to death anything in us that’s not pleasing to God. In Romans 8:12-13, Paul wrote, “You have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.”
Like Jesus, may we carry our cross today and sacrifice our lives out of love.
365-day plan: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Read Mark 10:28-30 and consider what the disciples gave up to follow Jesus.
How are you living out sacrificial love before God and others? What does it mean for you to carry your cross?