Maturing in the Lord
Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV®)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Jesus said there are two things required of His followers: deny yourself and take up your cross. These aren’t particularly difficult concepts, but they are a challenge to put into practice. I have an internal messaging system that fills my head with all sorts of “I want” statements. “I want to do this. I want it to happen this way.” To the generator of, “I want,” I have to say, “You don’t get to make every decision.” (I understand this can be taken to a destructive extreme, and I’m not suggesting that.) I also have the “I feel” statements: “I feel like this. I don’t feel like that.” Feelings are real, but feelings aren’t always right. Maturing means you have to learn to say to some feelings, “You’re not going to make this call.” I am also hard-wired with another set of messages: “I think.” The challenge is isn’t to know what I think; the challenge is to know what God wants. What does God’s Word say? What is He telling me? And then I have to learn to comply. Often our relationship with the Lord is framed in the context of “What will God do for me?” As we cooperate with the Spirit of God, we begin to choose the Lord with our whole heart. We will say no to our own desires, and our own willful intention, and sometimes even our preferences, to let God’s way emerge within us. It’s not an easy thing, but it’s an important part of maturing in the Lord.
Heavenly Father, I truly do want to put You first, but I battle “I want” and “I feel” and “I think.” Help me to deny myself and cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He works in my life so that Your purposes can emerge within me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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