In the last couple of lessons, I have mentioned one of the central aspects of a Christian’s walk; that is, to “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow” Jesus (Luke 9:23). I find myself draw back to this text in light of what we read in Lamentations that speaks of how God’s people of old, who became more focused on what they wanted, rather than what their God wanted. The consequence was devastating. Of her, Jeremiah writes, “She did not consider her destiny” (Lamentations 1:9). I find comfort in God’s steadfast love, His endless mercy and compassionate faithfulness. Yet, I also realize, that like the Jerusalem of old, faithful followers can get distracted by the world around us. The objective of “denying self” is slowly replaced by the daily pursuits of this life, obscuring our ability to understand the will of God, or in some cases, denying to do His will. The fact of the matter is this, what “will” I do is at the core of our walk with Christ.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will,
but the will of Him who sent Me.
The context of the above verse focuses on the redemptive work of Christ and all that it would entail, including the abuse He would face, the rejection He would encounter and the cross he would hang upon. For the Father’s will to be accomplished through Jesus, Jesus would have to deny self on daily basis. With the cross looming, and in great anguish, the challenge of denying self to do another’s will is seen in our Savior’s prayer, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be dome” (Luke 22:42). I wonder sometimes that my struggle with knowing and doing the will of God is because I am reluctant to do just that, deny self. Help me Lord to willingly deny myself daily so that your will can be evidenced in my life. What other things can influence what “will” I do?
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
I could be accused of coming to this verse rather frequently, but I do so with good reason. In my own life over the years, I have often found myself struggle with understanding what God’s will is, because I lack the desire to learn it; it is just that simple. I realize the battle for the mind is where Satan works the most, with subtle changes that sound reasonable, but pave the way to depravity. As disciples (i.e., learners), our willingness to “deny self-daily” sets the stage for God to transform our minds; which in turn, opens up the opportunity to come to understand His will more perfectly. I want to know what His will is for me…for us as His church.
Okay, with that said, I am painfully aware that such an endeavor is riddled with problems, of which, I am one of them. And although I will never get it all down perfectly, I don’t want those imperfections to be used as an excuse to not grow in my understanding of His will. So today, this day, I have an objective. I ask God to strengthen me in my efforts to deny self so I can focus on His will. With that, I apply myself, to the best of my ability, to allow God to transform me through the renewing of my mind. All, so I can more clearly understand His will and thus, have the opportunity to bring glory to His name. Lord, may your will be done in our lives this day.