Luke 9:23 – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Mama. Mama. Mama! Mothers of young children sometimes just want to change their title. The constant demand for attention and the need for love and care can be overwhelming. But no matter how tired or how sick they are, moms and dads set aside their own needs to meet the needs of their children. They die to themselves, daily.
I think about this example when I think of taking up the cross of Christ. I have often heard people talk of an illness or a trial being the cross that they must bear, but I wonder about this. Christ told us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. Do I only bear the cross when I am in trial? I think not. Instead, I believe that my cross lives in my daily decision to place God’s way over my way. It is dying to myself, so that I can live for Christ.
When Christ told me to take up my cross and follow Him, He desired to move me from the sin infested swamp of life to the mountain top of His fellowship, knowing the bridge out was a cross.
He wanted me to trade short-term enjoyment for unending joy, instant gratification for eternal reward, the easy road for the high road.
That sounds good, but the daily living of it in a world in opposition to all that God represents is hard. That is why it is called a cross.
So, when I think of bearing my cross, I think of:
- letting go of my desires for God’s desires;
- setting God’s priorities ahead of my own;
- giving up my rights so that I can yield to God’s way;
- trusting God to manage my heart and fulfil my desires;
- choosing the way of God over the way of man;
- pursuing God’s will rather than my own;
- releasing my claim as a citizen in this world to fully follow Christ;
- offering my heart and my life in sacrifice to the Creator of the universe;
- bearing ridicule gladly in order to reflect Christ to others;
- denying the lures of my flesh and this world to walk in fellowship with God;
- living in joy when it seems that everything I love in this world is gone;
- continuing to trust the goodness of God even when faced with great trial or pain;
- dying daily to the ‘me’ culture that wants to dominate my time, my will, and my heart.
Bearing my cross will involve trial and may occur during sickness, but the struggle, the surrender, is really within my heart. He set the example for me when He prayed in the garden and then got up to carry His cross to Golgotha.
I am better at this surrender on some days and not so good on others. It is a daily choice – God or me. Success in making this choice requires His strength, His love, and total dependence on Him.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Philippians 3: 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Hebrews 13: 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
I Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
I Corinthians 15: 31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.