Self sacrifice is not a badge of honor, but a simple two-word job description for Jesus followers.

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. John 12:24-25, The Message  

Jesus, fresh from raising Lazarus from the dead, decided to make his public appearance on a lowly beast. Those enamored by His power wondered why He didn’t make a grand entrance as a powerful warrior riding a sleek stallion. Even his disciples did not grasp this moment until after they experienced His glory. Jesus explains, as prophesied in Zechariah 9:9, that He was not coming as a conquering political figure, but as a humble servant who would die for our sin. Self sacrifice is the language of our Savior Jesus. He gave away His life: in His life and in His death. 

So, as followers of Jesus, we are called to come and die. Though our flesh is drawn to flashy opportunities that promote power and prestige, our soul seeks quiet service on behalf of Christ. Our aim is not to jockey for fame on earth, but to point to the Famous One in heaven. The Lord’s fame is above every name. He alone is worthy of the glory ascribed to His displays of mercy and compassion through His children. Our self sacrifice is an excuse to glorify God.

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (John 12:27-28)!

Thus we ask ourselves, “What in my life do I need to let go of and give God?” “What attitudes or actions need to die, so Christ’s character can come alive in my life?” It may be a child who gives us grief. By faith we die to our need to be admired as a parent. In truth, regardless of our children’s spiritual maturity, our parenting is all grace. We must also learn to die to our right to be right, if we truly desire the work of the Holy Spirit to change our heart and another’s heart. Self sacrifice is not a badge of honor, but a simple two word job description for Jesus followers.

Moreover, as we experience great works of God it is necessary to double down on our desire to die to ourselves. Answered prayer, physical healing, application of truth, respect from peers, maturity of our gifts, relational wholeness, promotion at work and financial blessings are all reasons to remember the originator of our blessings. The Lord’s blessings are all individual altars for us to bow before and die to taking credit for accomplishments that come from Christ. Instead, we revel in our relationship with God and His goodness. We die to self, so we can live with Him! 

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, what a joy and privilege to live for You. Any sacrifices I make are nothing compared to the greatest sacrifice of my Savior Jesus.

Related Readings: Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 10:39; Luke 14:26; 1 Corinthians 15:36; Acts 21:13

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