Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. John 12:20-26
Self-denial isn’t resigning one’s self to a life of misery and drudgery. The opposite is true. Dying to ourselves and living for Christ is where true joy, security and purpose are found. But, this requires work and intention on our part.
It entails counting the cost of following Christ (Luke 14:28). We do this by exposing the areas of our heart where we are chasing comfort and convenience above all else. It necessitates being honest about the line items on our personal agenda we don’t want to scratch out. It means slowing down long enough to reflect and ponder. It begins with possessing the courage to push through comfort’s charm and head towards the specific purpose God has for our life, which leads towards a place of refinement, inconvenience and stretching.
The apostle Paul urges us to “work out YOUR salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Once again, not a very comforting or convenient statement. Now, don’t confuse these words for a charge to earn spiritual merit badges through good works. Remember, God’s grace is a free gift.
You can’t earn something that is given to you with no strings attached. So, what Paul is telling the believers in the church of Philippi, as well as us, is to put into action God’s saving work in YOUR own life. The way you go about your day should serve as a response to being loved.
Working out your salvation entails ruthless personal reflection, listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and clarifying your calling. It means possessing a willingness to say to God, “Yes, Lord I will obey….now what’s the question? I’m going to follow you wherever you lead. I’m going to trust you with who I am becoming. I am going to submit my ways to You.”
Christ calls each one of us to die to ourselves and pick up our cross. This is a universal command, but one that gets displayed in obedience in a variety of different ways.
Jesus calls us to follow Him (John 12:26), and following Him means, first and foremost, to die. To lay down our desires. To lay down our hopes and dreams. To put aside anything other than full devotion to Him and His plan for our lives. To be willing to part with the things that we so easily cling onto for life and to say to God, “I’m willing to lay them down if it means I can be used by You to bring You glory and bear fruit so that others may know You as God.”
We shouldn’t overvalue comfort when we count the cost of being a disciple. Instead, we have to choose our calling over our comfort. Clarifying your sacrifice will make room for your purpose and your calling to become clear. The time has come to put the work in so you can articulate what YOUR cross is.
- In what situations do you need to drop your agenda and pick up your cross and follow Christ?
God, I want to stop overvaluing comfort when I count the cost of being a disciple and following You. I want to do the work necessary to articulate my cross. Instead of comfort, may I confidently deny myself knowing that You will use this sacrifice to make an impact. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.