“Through death runs the road to a fruitful life.”
That quote received zero likes on Facebook when I posted it last week. As I write this article there are still no likes, not even a sympathetic one.
It's taken from an Andrew Murray devotional book. I read it and thought: "Man, that is tough and hard, but so true."
This is what is most central to the Gospel of Jesus: in order for there to be life, there has to be death.
Jesus says it like this:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:10–11 ESV)
It is only through Jesus laying down his life for us that we are able to have a fruitful life.
But that is not our struggle, or at least mine, with that quote.
It’s easy to receive the gift of someone else’s self-sacrificing in order that we be blessed. Thanks for that, Jesus. :)
What I think caused the no-response was that we, as followers of Jesus, are then called to actually follow Him and do the same.
If we want to experience all that God has for us — life to the full — we have to be willing to die to ourselves and choose to follow His plan for our life.
That’s what I struggle with.
Believing that when I deny my selfish desires, I will actually experience MORE life.
A better life.
A life filled with more pleasure.
A life more fulfilled and satisfied.
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 ESV)
The lie we believe is that denying ourselves or dying to our desires is not worth it.
We think death leads to less life.
This is logical, but it is not the way of the Kingdom of God. It’s not the way of Jesus.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39 ESV)
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot
What it looks like for me to deny my selfish desires:
- When I get home and am tired, I choose to engage in the life of my family rather than get absorbed into a TV show, Facebook or more work.
- When I feel hurt by someone and I move towards them, not away from them.
- When I use my gifts, talents and abilities to bless others, not build myself up.
- When I actively seek to love, encourage and serve people who are hurting, even when it's inconvenient or I feel under-equipped or tired.
- When I pray for people who don’t know I am praying for them (and I don’t tell them).
- When I choose to spend more time with Jesus when I am busy, trusting that my time with Him is where I find life.
What about you? What gives you the most life? What does it look like for you to die to your desires, so that you can experience more life in and with Jesus??