Self-Denial, The First Requirement of Discipleship
Text: Matt. 16: 24-27
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.26 For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
The first requirement that Jesus put forward to every man before following Him is the denial of self, what is self-denial? This is when an individual fails to please themselves but rather chooses to please Christ. Therefore, everyone that wants to follow Christ must have been dead to himself, crushed at the cross, and never live again for any glory or fame. Paul put it in a better perspective in Phil 3: 7-8.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Paul said he counted all the glory he has as loss and dung that he may win Christ, here gaining Christ is synonymous with following Him, as no man can carry himself along in the journey of discipleship and follow Christ at the same time. Today many are fighting for positions, recognition, fame, or honour in the service of God. If that is the case, it is very clear that the self has not been dealt with in the life of such an individual. Self-denial is key because following Christ brings much glory and what a disciple must first know is that the glory must not be taken by him but by Christ. Also, following the Lord is no longer about what you want but what He wants.
How many can be called a brother today without a problem, how many can be introduced without a title, and how many can work for God without a portfolio? How many can serve God without expecting rewards? For a man that has denied himself, none of these have any effect because the life he is living is Christ and not himself.
Reflection: Christ sees your heart and just like the young ruler, he knows those things that have taken the self-position in you, just as he requested the young ruler to drop the wealth which was his glory, whatsoever he tells you today to drop to follow him, kindly drop it because without dropping the flesh you cannot pick the cross.
Author : Seun Oloruntoba