2nd February 2018

You First 

“If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests]…
Mark 8:34 (AMPC)

Perhaps you would agree that we live in a culture of self-indulgence more than self-denial. At the same time we love stories of people who sacrifice themselves for others. Such stories inspire us, and make us feel good as we watch them on TV from the safety and comfort of our own living room.

In Mark 8 Jesus begins to tell his disciples of how he must suffer many things and be rejected and be put to death (verse 31). Peter gets upset with what Jesus says, and Jesus rebukes him, saying that Peter is not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men (verse 33). It is in this context that Christ explains the Christian virtue of self-denial, which is one of the ‘things of God.’

So what is Jesus saying? That Christians should not enjoy themselves? No, that is not the thought. If you would follow Him, he explains, then the story of your life includes denying yourself. The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition, which is quoted above, expounds it well. Life is not all about you alone, and what you might want, but it’s about putting the interests of others before your own. “You, before me”, is a way of expressing it. Your children first, your husband first, your wife first, your parents first, your neighbour first, your enemy first, etc.

What if we applied this concept to a paraphrase of the famous love passage of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 How might it read? The person who, in Christ, denies herself or himself is patient and kind; she or he is never envious or boastful, never inflated with pride. That person is not rude and does not insist on his or her own rights or way, for Christ’s followers are not self-seeking. He or she is not resentful, and pays no attention to a suffered wrong. If you deny yourself, you don’t rejoice at unrighteousness, but you rejoice when right and truth prevail. She or he whose life-story includes self-denial bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, hopes under all circumstances, and endures everything. The Love of Jesus in such a person never fails.

Prayer
Father, without the guidance of your Spirit, how can I follow your Son, Jesus? Help me please, to follow Him truly, and let my life story include the virtue of self-denial that I may follow Jesus in putting the interests of others before my own.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen
 

Study by James Henderson

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About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

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