As we learned last week, people can make it hard to follow Jesus, especially the ones we love the most! But the one person in all of our lives that makes it most difficult to follow Christ is our self. We hold more influence than anyone else in our own lives. We seem to always get in the way—our wills, our opinions, our preferences, our desires that are so often contrary to His.
Jesus speaks of this issue to the early followers, and to us as well:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
Notice the phrase “yes, and even his own life.” Consider what Jesus says in John’s gospel, “whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world keeps it for eternal life!”
How different the words of Jesus are from the advice given by the world. The world encourages us to love self; saying in essence “it’s all about you,” Consider these terms:
- Self – acceptance
- Self – confidence
- Self – promotion
- Self – reliance
These are in stark contrast to the teachings of Jesus.
- We are not to accept self; we are to put self to death.
- We are not to be confident in self; we are to put our confidence in Christ.
- We are not to promote self, we are to humble ourselves so that God can lift us up.
- We are not to rely on self; we are to be totally dependent upon Him.
We have to stop worshiping at the altar of self-exaltation; rather we must put self to death! Notice what Paul says:
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11)
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
If you and I would follow after Christ, we must first “deny self.”
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Jesus is not calling you and me to self-exaltation; He is calling us to self-denial!
And you will never say “yes” to Jesus until you say “no” to self.
What are some other Barriers that get in the way of your relationship with Christ?