13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV
My son and daughter-in-love had their first child last week. The care for a new baby alters your life immediately in one specific area – lack of sleep. The baby needs nourishment and cleaning, and that can’t wait until morning. Parent’s begin the process of laying down their lives for the child by pushing through the lack of rest.
On Memorial Day we honor those who lost their lives in battle. They left homes, families, jobs and went to the front lines for their fellow countrymen. On this day, we remember to give thanks and encourage those families who lost a loved one.
I want to back up one step in this love process to answer the how and why someone lays down their lives. Jesus said, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 NIV
Before laying down your life, there is denying of yourself. Why would someone make that trade? A selfish person resists making that sacrifice. Our sinful flesh nature states that we need to care more about our own rights than we do for others. Yet, people make the trade to consider others more important than themselves.
The key is to see the value beyond the trade and not just the immediate transaction. In Hebrews 12:2, we see the model – fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
What was the joy set before Him? We were! He saw the birth and freedom of people who needed a savior. Our lives as children of God were the joy of the sacrifice.
In Luke 9:23, the trade was becoming a disciple of Jesus. We deny ourselves because we can’t go where Jesus is and keep doing whatever we want. It’s worth the trade to be a follower of Jesus. But it will require a denial of ourselves.
For soldiers in the military, they go through bootcamp to shed their “do whatever they want when they want to.” They push the soldiers to alter their sleep, food, and physical endurance to help them be ready to lay down their lives for their fellow soldier and ultimately for their country if needed.
Some reflective denying self questions.
- Where do you say “no” to one thing to gain something better?
- What foods should you not be eating, while choosing a healthier option?
- Was there a time when exercise helped you make other denial decisions?
- What is the cost you are willing to make to exercise?
- How much time do you think you as a follower of Jesus should spend in prayer and reading of the Bible? What has to shift to make that happen?
- Do you have a clear picture of the “joy set before you” which motivates you to change? The clarity of “the joy” will help you endure when you want to quit and its no fun anymore.
The joy for the new parents is holding and looking at a restful and peaceful newborn. After a long pregnancy you are holding a baby who opens his eyes and looks at his mommy and daddy. Lack of sleep is worth the trade. Sleep will come later and so will more challenges of denying yourself.
May you see the fruit of denying yourself as you become more and more like Christ in every arena of your life. Their is no other pathway to becoming a disciple that does not require the sacrifice of “denying yourself.” This summer is a great time to start. Praying joy on your journey.
Blessings Love y’all