Selfishness is promoted in every aspect of society, and it has permeated the culture impacting people’s expectations, ambitions, dreams, and decisions. As God’s people, we are called to live differently. So how do we deal with selfishness in our lives!? Jesus gives us insight and instruction on this important issue.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels. Mark 9:23-26
Jesus spoke to those listening and told them that those who want to follow Him must deny themselves. We cannot deny ourselves on a consistent basis apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our human nature desires to take care of number 1 and do everything for the benefit of self. Our carnal nature does not want to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced. Furthermore, it desires to protect itself from anything that might threaten its interests. Jesus knew this about human nature, and that is why He instructed us to live a spiritual life by denying the natural life.
Definition of Deny (According to Strong’s Dictionary):
- to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone;
to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests
The above definitions give us insight into what denying ourselves looks like. Denial requires disassociation with one’s old self and also letting go of our ideas and interests.
If we want to deny ourselves, we need to cut away our relationship with the old nature. We cannot cuddle it or go back to it when things are not working out as the way we hoped. That would be like having ended a bad dating relationship but when it all else fails, we go back to the person because they are better than nothing.
The problem with the old nature is that is it ruled by the selfish carnal life, and when you give it an inch, it will take a mile! The self does not go away easily and that is why Jesus tells us that we need to deny ourselves. Furthermore, we live in a culture that wants us to feed self and nurture all its desires. The world tells us that any thought and emotion is valid, and if we want to be real, we need to acknowledge and tend to those thoughts and emotions, so we can be our true self.
On the contrary, the Bible tells us that because we were born in sin and shaped in iniquity, we cannot trust our carnal ideas, thoughts, and emotions. To entertain any and every thought and emotion means that we will be entertaining the lust of the flesh, the lush of the eyes, and the pride of life. We need transformation. We need to get detoxed from our old selves and nurture the new nature in Christ. In addition, the scripture also tells us to hold captive thoughts, imaginations, and arguments.
The second part of the above definition speaks of losing our self-interests. When we are convinced that our ideas cannot bring the satisfaction we desire, we let go of our self-interests. Some of our self-interests are shaped by the culture that encourages people to be performance-oriented. The subtle reality of being performance-oriented is that it becomes about us, our achievements, and our success, and it neglects the impact of our decision on others. Furthermore, the culture does not embrace intimacy because that brings vulnerability. Lack of vulnerability pushes us further into being selfish making sure that we are protected and our needs are met because we don’t trust others.
Can you imagine how many marriages could be saved if individuals were willing to do the hard work of denying themselves and put their spouse’s interests before theirs? How many did not have to fail because one person decided to get selfish and commit adultery? How many could have been preserved because each person thought about the impact of their decision on their family instead of their own their dreams!?
The above scripture shows us to be truly satisfied in life, we need to follow Jesus and not entertain our ideas of happiness. Many times the denial of ourselves or our ideas is not going to be enjoyable or feel good, but we don’t have to be afraid. God sees us and He sees our desire to be a follower of His Son. Jesus was not ashamed of denying Himself in order to gain true life for us. He modeled a life of self-denial and taught His disciples that there is gain in letting go of controlling our lives! The profit we receive from losing our self-interests is far greater than anything we can achieve or make happen in our own strength. The Lord is our shepherd. He knows our needs, and He is the provider of our daily bread!
Do you want to know God’s will in your life? Many Christians desire to know God’s will but struggle to find it. Searching the word of God and prayer is the foundation of knowing the will of God. The question is, what do we do when we need to know God’s will about something specific such as relocation, choosing the right job, or picking the right mate!? …
Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John 12:23-26
The above passage occurred after triumphal entry. Many came to see Jesus and brought their palm branches declaring the entrance of the King of Israel to Jerusalem! However, Jesus knew that the true triumph was waiting for Him on the other side of the cross! He had to defeat the enemy and redeem man from the power of hell, sin, and destruction!
While Jesus’ disciples must have felt good about Him being acknowledged by the people, Jesus likened His life to a grain of wheat that has to fall to the ground and die before it produces much grain and becomes fruitful. Even though Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, His true reproduction began after going to the cross!
Jesus endured the accusations, scorns, and sufferings before the eyes of His family, disciples, friends, and His enemies. The cross may have made Jesus look weak and guilty to the world, but He was meek and pure, and His strength was under the control of the Holy Spirit. He was not derailed by the voices around Him and neither did He bow down to the demands of others. Despite people’s expectations of Him to be the king of Israel, Jesus knew that the nation of Israel as well as humanity needed a Savior for its redemption and reconciliation! This must have disappointed His disciples, but Jesus knew His assignment and what the Lord had required of His son! If He had not died for the sins of humanity, He was going to remain alone, and He could not bring the many sons and daughters to salvation and reconciliation to the Father!
In this hour, many look to government and experts to be the savior of humanity. There are many demands on them to have answers for the current situation, but Jesus has the answer to man’s true condition. People may be temporarily focused on the pandemic, but the world including our nation is need of spiritual restoration and deliverance! There is no peace unless the Prince of Peace is invited into our lives. Our marriages, families, communities, and our nation are in need of healing, and the answer is in the cross of Jesus.
True healing begins with us admitting that we are incapable of fixing our problems. We need to ask for forgiveness for our sins, our selfishness, and our stubbornness that has caused so much disorder in our lives and in our communities. We also forgive others. Jesus paid the full price for all our sins to set things right with the Father and with one another. He also taught us that we can experience the power of resurrection through repentance and denying our old nature. When we allow our carnal nature to die to unbelief, pride, division, animosity, strife, hatred, and anger, we give room for the resurrection power to bear fruit of the spirit and restoration in our lives. Jesus paid a high price, so we can have the privilege of living a life of freedom, peace, love, and reconciliation. Thank you Lord for sending your son to the earth! Thank you Jesus for your great sacrifice and redemption! Thank you Holy Spirit for being with us and for your conviction and revelation!