“The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ. We look at it like this: if one died for all men then, in a sense, they all died, and now His purpose in dying for them is that their lives now should be no longer lived for themselves but for Him who died and rose again for them” (II Corinthians 5:13-14, J.B. Phillips Translation).
In a day and age that almost defies the “self” self-fulfillment, self-image, self-actualization, self-esteem, self-confidence, and more hyphenated self-words than you can shake a stick at, the above verse kind of cuts against the grain, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us to no longer live for self but for the One who died and rose again on our behalf. When writing to the Philippians, the apostle said, “And do nothing from selfishness…but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Both are consistent with Christ’s call that we die daily (to self), pick up our crosses and follow Him.
When the Bible uses the hyphenated self, it looks like this, self-denial, self-discipline, self-crucifixion, self-restraint, etc.
If you’re like me, when we contemplate self-denial for the sake of Christ and others, our flesh, our natural man cringes. Though we may not say it out loud, we do, in our spirit, say such things as, “That’s not fair!” or “Whose going to look out for me if I don’t?” or ”If I do that I won’t have time to do this.” Surprisingly, as we study God’s Word, we find that there is no loss programmed in the self shall be last mindset.
Picture this, 100 people are in a room, all filled with a God-given desire to love one another more than they love themselves. If you are one of those people, what is the ratio of that which is going out of you to that which will be coming back towards you? That’s right 99 to 1.
Over the years I have heard the testimony of hundreds who have registered anything from pleasant surprise to out-and-out shock, at what it was they received in return after they died to self and put Jesus then others before themselves. They were not prepared for what they received and were left wondering why they had not done it sooner.
This is one reason we need to be daily in God’s Word, for the world around us is telling us that “we deserve________. ” You fill in the blank. God’s Word tells us to forget about self, draw near to God, lay down your lives for your brothers and sisters in Christ, and even for a world that is without Christ. Where do you think the flesh is going to turn in regards to that choice? Duh!
With Jesus as our example, the Word as our road map, and the Holy Spirit empowering us, we too can walk as Jesus walked and say as He said, “I have not come to be served, but to serve.” And in that stepping forth finding a well of vitality that Jesus Himself found when ministering to the woman at the well (John 4:32).