Dying to Self

We know what we want…so we get it.

We know what we feel…so we say it.

We know what we want to do…so we do it.

Even if we know it is not the right choice, we have long learned to live for self and ignore anything or anyone that gets in the way of our “pleasure.”

We may have a momentary hesitation of “maybe I should wait” or “maybe I shouldn’t do it at all” and we may experience a twinge of regret if we proceed, but we are masters at subduing that regret and rationalizing our actions.

When we have not prepared ourselves to say no to ourselves…

When we have not trained ourselves to walk away from what is not best or what is, in fact, wrong…

When we have not disciplined ourselves to stop and think about the effects of our actions on others…

We step out and do whatever we “feel” like doing without a true thought to anyone else.

We see it all around us; self before God, self before others. Often, we shake our heads when we see others doing the very same thing – living in the moment for self, wondering how they could be so blind; yet how often do we move forward in the same mindset?

Everyone would understand, so it is okay.

No one will know; well, God will know – but He will understand my humanity and forgive.

Surely this is right because…and we fill in the blank.

There are no consequences; except there always are – to ourselves and, with very rare exceptions, to others in some way.

And, with each, we justify why we should please ourselves more than obey God and respect Him as well as ourselves and others.

Dying to self is hard.

Dying to self takes training; with every success, it is easier the next time.

Dying to self reveals the heart of one to the heart of God.

Dying to self leads to freedom for the believer and the unbeliever.

In a powerful scene from the movie “God’s Not Dead,” a mother, who has been unable to speak, speaks to her atheist son after he compares his “perfect” life to her life of physical problems. He has long “lived for self” and is certain he has the greater position.

Sometimes the devil allows people to lead a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. His sin is like a jail cell except it’s all nice and comfy, and there doesn’t seem to be any need to leave. The door is wide open. Then one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly, it’s too late.

God’s Not Dead

While it is true that the unbeliever often misses the grace and forgiveness of God, enamored with the “stuff of life,” might we also consider that, when people choose to live for self rather than dying to self, even those who are redeemed children of God, they are also living in a jail cell of their own making? God calls us to obedience, to dying to self, for His glory and our greatest good.  He has set boundaries that we may think, at times, are keeping us from experiencing happiness but which are actually intended to increase our joy. 

We can walk out of that jail cell and into the light by learning and training ourselves to say “no” to ourselves and “yes” to what God says is right and good and is His best for us, that which is honoring to Him and to those around us, that which will ultimately give us lasting and deeper pleasure and joy than a momentary choice in time.

Will that always be easy? No, especially if we have long given in to those choices whether it be actions, thoughts, words, or attitudes. But how awesome to run the race with perseverance, to find grace in our time of need and celebrate it with the Lord and maybe another when we walk out of the jail cell and say “not today” making it easier the next time, and to be able to “feel His pleasure” as we die to self and live for the Lord.

We can be assured that, if we ask the Lord to show us those areas, He will be faithful to do that and sometimes use others to reveal and to encourage, and He will be equally faithful to be present in the moments ahead and give the joy and delight for which we long!

Then and only then will we truly live!

“I will run in the path of Your commands, for You will enlarge my heart.” Psalm 119:32

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” 2 Peter 1:3-9

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