So often our stumbling blocks are tha things of men. It is too easy to let our life revolve around our position at work or how our bank account looks or what other people think of us. In our humanity, it is pretty easy to be human! But we can also stumble on heavenly things. For example, at times we can allow doubt or fear to keep us from doing what God calls us to.
Jesus calls us to deny self and to take up our cross to follow Him. There are two parts here. First, we are called to deny self. When we deny self we are putting all others above ourself and our needs, desires, interests, wants… ALL others above self. That is not just family, close friends, maybe a few people from the church. It is also that coworker you really don’t like that much and that homeless lady you walk by on the way to your car. But certainly when we deny self, we have more to offer to others.
The second part of this call is to take up our cross. For Jesus, His cross led to the greatest gift ever and also to His physical death. For us, our cross is both what we can offer to our broken world and a spiritual death to the things that keep us from fully following Jesus Christ. For Jesus, His cross held all of our sins and He took it up and bore it for our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins. On Jesus’ cross was love for mankind. Love was truly the gift Jesus had to offer. He denied self to love others fully.
It makes me wonder – what gift for mankind is on my cross or on your cross? Maybe it is our gifts and talents that are on our crosses. So when we deny self, it is what we have to offer to our fellow man. If compassion is our gift, then when one denies self and takes up their cross, is it compassion that flows out? If ones gift is teaching, then when one denies self and pours themselves into being a teacher, is it learning that pours out for others?
Scripture reference: Matthew 16: 21-28