There is an age-old, eternal principle in the Kingdom of God. No one can escape it, avoid it, move around it, or even make it easier, though some people try. The principal is that of the cross. What I mean by the cross is what Jesus meant when He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV), and elsewhere, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Matt. 16:25).
There is a common thread throughout Scripture of dying in order to live; dying to self, that is. Dying to our ambitions, agendas, ideals, preferences, etc. There is also the small, more daily deaths we must face in relationships, whether friends, family, or a significant other. Doing the dishes, taking out the trash, biting your tongue when everything inside you wants to burst out in frustration or irritation, helping someone move, dealing with an opposite personality from your own. The list could literally go on for ages. We all know that the riches of Christ are inexhaustible, well so are the ways to die to self. There are as many ways to die to yourself as there are leaves on every tree on earth combined. Jesus couldn’t even avoid the cross!
The Apostle Paul remarked concerning the cross, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:10-11). This concept, this law of the Kingdom is consistent all throughout Scripture: to die to oneself in order that Christ may live in and through you, become bigger and you become smaller, in order that Life will “abound more and more in our earthly bodies”. If you disagree with this, then I recommend you take a look at your New Testament gospels and epistles. The Old Testament is packed full of the cross too. But for those of you who are like me, who would rather not thumb through the OT for too long, then look at any of the letters in the NT and convince me I’m wrong.
Okay, so there’s this principal of the cross in our lives individually and corporately. We must die to our own selves so that life will abound. Once we gain this truth and fully accept it, there comes about another problem. That problem is this: that once we realize that dying is necessary to living, because of the flesh, we will eventually attempt putting the cross on somebody else instead of ourselves. What I mean is that when an issue between, say, two brothers arises, either one or both of them will choose to die and the life of Christ will then be manifested, or one of those brothers will say, “Well, he just needs to bear the cross!” Once that remark is made (if jokingly said, that’s fine) that person has chosen not to bear the cross. That person has chosen the path of the flesh.
We are all guilty of it and we must not become slaves to shame again because of it. It holds a lesson within it, so don’t get bent-out-of-shape because you happen to do this every once-in-awhile. But we must learn that the cross is for us. Not for anyone else.
When the cross, or an opportunity to die to ourselves comes up, we must learn and remind ourselves that this cross, this painful little death, is made especially for us. We should never expect the other person to die instead. We should never take the assumption that he or she should “bear the cross this time”. No, it’s much easier to say that every time the opportunity arises (which will most certainly be every day) that it is always for us.
If you and I were to get into a misunderstanding and the cross presented itself, I should never, never ever, consider it to be yours. I should say to myself, “This is a time for me, not him or her, to die,” because when it’s all said and done, I will be the one that experiences more life. I will be the one that gets the most from it. It may be weeks away, even years away, but because I denied myself, took up my cross, and followed Jesus, I will also certainly resurrect with Him too!
I don’t mean that because I denied myself that I will get to go to heaven now, that is already done by the blood of Christ, what I mean by resurrection is that I will experience the life of Christ here on earth. My desire, along with God’s will be wrought in me much deeper, that is, that Jesus Christ will be expressed and manifested on the earth. Amen.
So, next time you have a chance to die, take it and don’t put it on the next guy because you will certainly reap a reward.