Dying to Self

Friday, May 9, 2014

I Corinthians 5:7 says "For even Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us."  The story of the Passover, which is when the Jews celebrate the story of their deliverance from the death angel sent to convince Pharoah to let them go from slavery in Egypt, and the story of the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are beautifully intertwined. This verse brings the two together. Jesus, the Lamb of God willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. John 1:29, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Just as a perfect lamb was killed for the Passover and its blood was put on the doorposts of the Jews' homes, Jesus' blood was shed to cleanse our hearts from sin and save us from sure destruction and judgment.

In the hours before Jesus' crucifixion, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. There He laid down His will to do the will of the Father. He would go to the cross to die in my place and yours. It was for our sins that He died, not for His, because He had no sin. He would do as His Father had said; the whole reason He had come to earth was to be the sacrificial lamb, to die once to pay the penalty of death for the sin of the world.

The apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20, "I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Really Paul is saying that just as Christ laid down His will to do the Father's will, we have the privilege of following Jesus' example by laying down our own will to allow Christ to live through us. Our needs, our wishes, our hopes, our desires, and our dreams are all surrendered to do the will of Christ in our lives. This sounds so noble and most of us would say that we are willing to do this, but how does it work out in our day-to-day lives? How do we "die to self?" How do we put aside our pride and willful ambitions? How do we in actuality "take up our cross" and follow Jesus? The following poem tells us how. This was an eye opener for me to realize how much I still hang on to my will for my life and how far I have to go in learning how to die to self.

When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set at naught and you do not sting and hurt at the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worth to suffer for Christ,

      that is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself but take it all in patient, loving silence,

      that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance spiritual insensitivity, and endure it as Jesus endured it,

      that is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God,

        that is dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown,

      that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart,

      that is dying to self.

"Dying to Self" - author unknown

My youngest child is now 18, but I remember well when he was born. He was our fifth child in ten years. As many of you know by your own experience, giving birth to a child is also a dying to self. Your own comfort, plans, and wishes are set aside in order to give life to another person. Then after the birth, you get up nights to feed this little one, change endless diapers, and basically take care of his every need no matter how you feel or what you were doing or trying to do. You die to self in order to care for the needs of another. But what a joy it is. Recently, my first grandchild was born. I watched as my son and his wife cared for him. Another generation carrying on this dying to self. Just as Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, so we as parents also endure the demands on us to have the joy of bearing a child and caring for him. 

Perhaps you don't have children or babies, but certainly somewhere throughout your day, there is a time to die to self. It is not easy. Our hearts rise up in resistance to it.  Perhaps you are falsely accused; perhaps someone criticizes some good that you have done. Or you are served a food you don't like. Or you are tempted to brag about one of your accomplishments. Or you are not chosen, or left out. By God's grace and with Christ's example, we also can die to self.  "And being found in human form, he [Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:8

by Sandy Hall

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