For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. Mark 8:35
There’s a song with lyrics that says “Its an inside, outside, upside down kingdom.... Where you lose to gain, and die to live.”
In recent years those words have never rang more true. The very things we need, the fruit we want to see all comes at the opposite of what we expect in our sin nature. When we are offended, we want to disconnect rather than reconcile, but reconciliation bears fruit. When we are wronged by a loved one, grudges feel justified, but forgiveness heals the heart. And the list goes on…
Sacrificing time to spend it with God leads to more intimacy with Him
Discipline to studying leads to more knowledge of His word
Applying what is read leads to a life transformed
Get the point?
Submission, sacrifice, obeying, forgiveness, replying to harsh words with kindness are all acts of denying self.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24
Denying self is not always easy. It’s not doing what you really want to do. Its not getting even when you can, Its being patient, its holding your tongue, its being frighteningly honest with Him, it’s trusting again…. its letting God be Lord over your most intimate decisions. Though it can be scary or uncomfortable, its peace in it. There are three practices that I’ve experienced that have borne a lot of fruit. Those three things are: letting things go, submitting my gifts to God, and practicing what He preaches.
Letting Things Go
This was and sometimes still is very hard for me at times. Through the years I’ve had to separate from certain friendships and in the past even relationships, all of which have been hard. All were uncomfortable and all involved me leaning on God for clarity and strength to do so. If I could I would’ve kept people around for many different reasons: Length of friendship, being comfortable, or believing that what’s dead will get better. Through the years I’ve learned that people aren’t keepsakes, and my reasoning for keeping toxic people and things around was not valid anymore. People aren’t china in the cabinet of our lives no matter how long we’ve known them. They can be bondage. They can be toxic and stagnant to our growth. Therefore, God is wiser than me, and if He feels like certain habits, people, places or things aren’t good for me, than who am I to argue that?
Submitting My Gifts And Talents
There are gifts and talents that people have that they were active in long before they accepted Christ. There are also gifts that were illuminated after growing in Godly identity. Both are powerful, but none are from our own doing. I learned that the gifts God gives me are His. I could go through life trying to use them by myself, but that would simply lead to a purposeless chaos. When I submit them to God, its literally like the gift that keeps on giving. Not because its fruitful, but because there’s an intimacy that comes with it. There is also a call. If my writing represents God I can’t write vulgar or disrespectful things. To be honest, here’s been times when God has stopped me when I leaned on the side of carnal rather than Christian. Because my gifts are submitted, I can’t just do whatever I want with them.
Practice What He Preaches
This helps me to be a doer of the word, instead of just a hearer. When I’m faced with issues of the heart, applying what God says is like a healing balm for me. It redirects my actions that will lead to forgiveness, forbearance, reconciliation, and making my path straight. Confessing sins, pursuing peace, sacrificing time, taking my small insecure moments to a big God… is fruitful. Though its hard, it leads to greater things.
Until Next Time,