Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
As presented on *The Lutheran Hour® by Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, February 20, 1983.
Self-denial as many people understand it—giving up something such as a habit or a pleasure—has become a common exercise in a world where good health and good looks are at a premium. It makes them feel good and after a while they begin to brag about it. Then they start to criticize others who don’t have this drive to lose weight, avoid possible illness, or achieve a certain status, attributing this to sheer willpower.
This kind of self-denial is sometimes considered a religious exercise. Some people fast at various times during the season of Lent, the 40 days (omitting the Sundays) preceding Easter or give up something during Lent.
Yet Lent is not about denying yourself something, it is about denying yourself. The congregations with which I am most closely associated generally observe Lent with a concentrated reminder of the cross of Christ. That is self-denial with a vengeance—not their observance of Lent, you understand—but the crucifixion of the Son of God for the sins of the world. There He denied Himself everything, even life itself.
Jesus’ love motivated Him to give up the privilege of His divine glory and His very human life. A follower of Christ is one who has been moved by the love of God in putting His Son in our place. A disciple gives himself up to Christ, abandoning everything evil, impure, inferior, and unworthy of a child of God.
Lord God, You gave Your Son to die for our sins and we give ourselves to You in repentance and faith. We trust You not to make life easy, but to make it real, worthwhile, and eternal. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Taken from A Message of Hope: Proclaiming the Cross (selections from messages broadcast on *The Lutheran Hour, celebrating 75 years of proclaiming the promise).
Copyright © 2006 by Lutheran Hour Ministries
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