WFW: Denying Ourselves
In recent Word For Wednesdays, we've been talking about what pride is. This week, I'd like focus on some specific examples from the Scriptures. Let's begin with Mark 8:27-37 :
"And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
This passage is so familiar to most of us. We all know that Peter first calls Jesus the Christ and then turns around and rebukes Him when He says that He's going to suffer. So what does this have to do with pride? Peter believed that He had a better way than God -- "No, Lord! This shall never happen to You! You're supposed to be the Saviour of Israel, the One who is going to defeat the Romans! You can save Yourself!" He was right when He said that Jesus was the Christ, but He had a different idea of what that meant. This was prideful, for we often think that our way is the best way, and we don't understand God's way -- how could it be so good? In reality, God's way is the best way -- "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer 29:11) You will notice that immediately following Jesus' rebuke to Peter, He says, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me"; in other words, Jesus told His disciples that they needed to deny themselves, to be humble. Peter needed to deny himself, his hopes and dreams, and follow Christ. And Jesus also knew that those who save their lives will lose them -- this would apply to Himself, as well, for He could have saved His own skin or gained the whole world, but then millions of others would have still been under sin which leads to death. (And Jesus did say that He could call down angels from Heaven to spare Him and that He laid down His life of His own free will, stating, "Not My will, but Yours be done.") Jesus took up His cross, and because of that, millions can have the spirit of life in Christ Jesus which makes us free from the law of sin and death. It is the same for us today: we can take up our crosses and follow Him, leaving behind self; or we can choose to gain the whole world and lose our souls. The crosses which we are called to bear may differ in one way or another, but there is one thing that is the same for all of us: we must deny ourselves, we must be humble. We must trust that the Lord knows what He is doing, even if we don't understand it; we must obediently take up our crosses, throw away our pride, and follow Him.
Matthew 18:4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."