Demonstrate living a life of denial of one's self for me. What does that really look like? Someone may point out there is this attitude of putting others first. That is definitely a good one. Another may tell us there is this kind of self-abasement that occurs when you really are living a life of self-denial. While we all need a realistic view of ourselves and should not think of ourselves as better than anyone else, I think a life of self-denial may just be more than putting yourself down. Self-denial might begin with an attitude and lead to actions, especially if we do it the way Jesus recommends!
The attitude we need to exhibit is one that reveals genuine commitment to walk in obedience to his commands and to honor his actions of grace toward us. All of life's 'self-denial' moments come as a result of our submission to him - by really putting him first in our lives above any other perfectly understandable desire or self-interest we may have. This attitude leads to us taking obedient steps - action follows the attitude we assume. We begin to accept there will be danger and risk in obedience, but we do it willingly and with a heart of gratitude because of the extreme grace we have been shown in our lives.
We can never truly avoid danger or risk when it comes to living obedient lives. We may think this Christian walk will be one of the easiest things we do in life, but let me just remind us all of the fact the 'self-nature' desires to be number one in our lives and will continue to demand that position! We are by nature pretty self-centered individuals. I have just offended some of you, I know, but the truth is sometimes hard to hear! We live so as to make sure our needs are fulfilled. Don't believe me? The last time you had 'seconds' at the dinner table, did you ever stop to consider who it is you might have encountered today that didn't even have 'firsts'?
Letting go of 'center' in our lives is harder than you'd think. You might think being overwhelmed by the grace of God would be more than enough to get self out of the center for good, but if my life is any indication of how it is for others, then self isn't going to take a backseat easily! This may be why Jesus made reference to taking up our cross daily, while making that conscious choice to follow him. It is a daily thing - moment-by-moment even. When we see 'self' creep up a little, we remind ourselves there is another way God desires. We get Christ back at center and we take another step forward. This is the life of a believer. This is what 'denying self' looks like. Just sayin!
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