I was scrolling through social media yesterday and happened across a post. A nice warm sentiment about taking care of yourself…
The idea, I suppose, is that if you pay attention to your needs first, you’re better able to take care of others.
Later I saw another one.
Just another thought whose aim is clearly to encourage you to invest in “what makes you happy.” On any other day, I might have taken no notice of these and the cloud of other similar ideas, but juxtaposed with a quote my husband shared with me from a book he was reading the day before, these posts seemed especially ill-suited for those who claim to follow Christ.
Here’s David Platt’s comment on Jesus’ words from the Gospel of Luke:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23) Talk about counter-cultural. In a world where everything revolves around yourself—- protect yourself, promote yourself, comfort yourself, and take care of yourself—-Jesus says, “Crucify yourself. Put aside all self-preservation in order to live for God’s glorification, no matter what that means for you in the culture around you.”
I think he is spot on and amazingly timely considering the prevailing philosophy of the world (and sometimes the church) today. The Bible tells us that self-centeredness and self-reliance are innate to all of us. (Mk 7:20-23; Gal. 5:19-21) Pride, deceit, sensuality, covetousness, anger, jealousy, etc. are the natural outgrowth of those who major on their own desires. Considering this, do we really need to be encouraged to focus on ourselves more? Isn’t it shocking to see the results of that attitude surfacing in our society every day?
Rather than being absorbed with our own aspirations, Jesus commanded His disciples to make following Him the center of our purpose and focus. He left little room to be misunderstood. To his original hearers, the cross wasn’t a religious symbol, rich with warm tradition. In the first century, the cross meant one thing… death. The command to us today is the same.
“Follow Me,” Jesus says… and do so even at the expense of yourself.
In a day that pushes us to “do you, for you,” the call from Christ is still to put to death our own plans and yearnings, and instead, yield ourselves fully to Him every day.
Of course, all of us have been uniquely made by God with dreams and goals that, when properly directed, can enrich ourselves and others in world around us. But we can never allow our egos to elevate those things above the calling to pattern our lives after the Master.
So when our desires conflict with what God wills, our response should always be the same as Christ’s…. Not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)