I understand that “in the world [I] shall have tribulation,” but what about the trials originating within the church, the family of God? And I understand that I am to “Love [my] enemies, bless them that curse [me], do good to them that hate [me], and pray for them which despitefully use [me], and persecute [me],” but what am I to do when I am cursed, hated, despitefully used, and persecuted by those I love? Shouldn’t I expect “more” from these? Isn’t a “strong” reaction justified, even appropriate, and perhaps even “good” for the one who has offended me?
When these thoughts assaulted my mind recently, I was reminded of the Lord’s testimony in His discourse on the Good Shepherd:
“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life….” John 10:17a
This provoked me to remember His specific teaching on discipleship, the one most of us would rather not dwell on too long:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Then, as you would expect, the Holy Spirit brought to mind Paul’s exhortation to all saints of this dispensation of grace:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
So, my instruction from the Lord is to accept the fact that I have “no reputation” worth defending, that my calling is to be a “servant,” that my attitude in all things is to be humility, and that my response to all of life’s challenges, regardless of what they are, is to be “obedient unto death, even the death of [my daily] cross.” In other words, as the Luke passage makes plain, I am called to die every day!
I must be honest and say that I fight that required death just as often as it is demanded of me, i.e., every day. Yet, it is only when I obey and die to self that I have peace and victory in the spiritual battles of my life.
Believers, God’s Word is true. If we are going to be fruitful disciples for the Lord, we can’t have any other masters, especially Self. We have been purchased by God with the precious blood of Christ to bring glory to His name. Self interest, self aggrandizement, and self pity prevent us from fulfilling our calling to bring glory to His name. Only a daily dying on our God-ordained cross will enable us to serve Him acceptably.
So, let us rest in the assurance that “all things work together for good” and submit ourselves to the Spirit’s work of conforming us “to the image of his Son,” even, yes, especially, when our cross is the most painful, and dying to ourself most difficult.
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