It must be difficult to be a professional basketball coach. It seems with each passing year that an increasing number of players are disrespectful to their coaches, referees, other players and the fans themselves. What should be a poetic team exercise of unselfish sportsmanship has turned into a circus of “I-isms” where a player’s attitude and action state, “It’s all about me.”
It must be difficult to be God. Daily He observes unruly, disrespectful children who seem more than willing to grieve His Spirit, ignore the commands of His Son and disdain His appointed leaders. What should be a marvelous demonstration of unity and fruit-bearing instead is the First Church of Me.
Titus 1:16--They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for any good work.
One reason we struggle with self-denial is that we have failed to understand belonging. The moment we choose to follow after Christ we belong to Him. But even if we rejected Jesus, we still belong to God. The fact that He allows us to exercise free will doesn’t in any way negate the reality that He owns us. Our eternal future is determined by Him. If we snub Him on earth He promises the consequence will be eternal suffering. If we worship Him He promises the consequence will be forever rewarding.
What makes self-denial difficult boils down to our failure to understand ownership. “Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). The mistake many Christians make is to focus on the cross Jesus asks them to carry. The cross represents suffering and God’s plan and we instinctively withdraw from pain or an agenda that is not our own. The setting aside of our ambition, plans and rights to carry out Christ’s agenda seems unfair. But God is not concerned with our concept of fairness; He is concerned with His will being accomplished. The former is self-centered, self-gratifying and eventually ends up opposing God. Lucifer is a great example of this.
When we put our focus on Christ and following after Him, we begin to understand ownership and self-denial is no longer a pressing issue. The cross becomes a welcome part of a sanctified pilgrimage. We discover that true freedom is the pursuit of meeting the Creator’s intent. Joy is born in the realization of God’s purpose and blessing is bathed in the voice that says, “Well done!”
If you seek great things for yourself—God has called me for this and that; you are putting a barrier to God’s use of you. As long as you have a personal interest in your own character, or any set ambition, you cannot get through into identification with God’s interests. You can only get there by losing for ever any idea of yourself and by letting God take you right out into His purpose for the world, and because your goings are of the Lord, you can never understand your ways. I have to learn that the aim in life is God’s, not mine.—Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest
©2005 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)