Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow meMatthew 16:24
Friends, the life we are promised as believers in Christ is not the soft and glamorous life that is so often advertised around us and eagerly sought after. There will be trials and tribulation, pain, disappointment, and temptation along this journey. The call of a Christian is not an easy and struggle free life but one of surrender, dying to ourselves and to the world. And instead, being resurrected again as a new creation in Christ, living for Him and through Him alone. So, what is the point? What is our great reward from such a sacrificial life? Well, I can tell you with great confidence, it is the unimaginable joy that comes from knowing Christ, the hope that anchors you in the middle of a storm and the confident expectation of what is to come even after death.
What does a surrendered life look like?
- Dying to our friends
- “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Provers 18:24. God wants us to be in fellowship with Him and people around us but there may come a time when your friends forsake you. Or you may enter a season where you have to leave your surrounding and the friends you are familiar with to fulfil your life purpose. In those moments of fear or doubt of stepping out “alone”, remember Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a brother.
- Dying to family
- “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me,” Psalm 27:10. Now please understand me, I am NOT saying to defy or hate your parents. The bible encourages us to honour our mother and father however, we must honour God and His will for us above anyone else’s. As children we are so dependent on our parent’s decision-making but there comes a time in one’s life when you must decide for yourself with the help of the holy spirit what’s next for you and your parent’s may/may not approve. And so, it will take courage to seek to please God more than your parents.
- Dying to work
- “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” Ecclesiastes 9:10. This may be a sensitive one, if you have dreamed of being a musician, doctor, teacher, dancer etc and the door for that career doesn’t open, it can be heart-breaking. However, in these moments, trust that God has a plan for your work life. Open your heart and mind to His desires for your work pursuits.
- Dying to the world
- “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Romans 12:2
- The world will try to entice you with everything it has money, power, sex but these are things do not satisfy. Are not eternal. When we choose to “pick up our cross” and follow Jesus, we walk away from anything and anyone who doesn’t align with who He is.
- Dying to personal goals and ambitions
- “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
- This could be anything from a spouse to a child, to starting a business. These desires are not guaranteed but also our timeline is not His, neither are our ways His ways. So, whilst we make plans, we should try to hold onto them loosely.
- In our obedience and surrender, we choose to give these things up and open our hands to receive what God has for us instead.
Our great reward
So, after all this sacrifice, sowing and effort, what is our reward? Well, it is the harvest, the turnaround, and the fruit. Essentially souls won for the kingdom. It is cultivation, as God does an internal work in our character. It is stewardship, as we learn to nurture and manage what God has gracefully granted us in each season. But it also to learn to become agile, as we remain primed and ready for God’s next instruction, living in submission to His will and calling on our lives.
“The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; but the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:8-9