Sunday, March 28, 2010

Guest Post From Sandy On Dying To Self

I Corinthians 5:7b says, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” The story of the Passover, which is when the Israelites celebrate the story of their deliverance from the death angel sent to convince Pharoah to let them go from slavery in Egypt, and the story of the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are beautifully intertwined. This verse brings the two together, Jesus, the Lamb of God (John1:29 “...Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.”) willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. Just as a perfect lamb was killed for the Passover and its blood was put on the door posts of the Israelites’ homes, Jesus’ blood was shed to cleanse our hearts from sin and save us from sure destruction and judgment.

In the hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. There He laid down His will to do the will of the Father. He would go to the cross to die in my place and yours. It was for our sins that He died, not for His because He has no sin. He would do as His Father had said; the whole reason He had come to earth was to be the sacrificial lamb, to die once to pay the penalty of death for the sin of the world.

The apostle Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Really Paul is saying that just as Christ laid down His will to do the Father’s will, we have the privilege of following Jesus’ example by laying down our own will to allow Christ to live through us. Our needs, our wishes, our hopes, our desires, and our dreams are all surrendered to do the will of Christ in our lives. This sounds so noble and most of us would say that we are willing to do this, but how does it work out in our day-to-day lives? How do we “die to self”? How do we put aside our pride and willful ambitions? How do we in actuality “take up our cross” and follow Jesus? The following poem tells us how. This was an eye opener for me to realize how much I still hang on to my will for my life and how far I have to do in learning how to die to self.

Dying to Self
author unknown

When you are forgotten or neglected or purposely set as naught and you do not sting and hurt at the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ,

that is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself but take it all in patient, loving silence,

that is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance, when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensitivity, and endure it as Jesus endured it,

that is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God,

that is dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or to record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown,

that is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising in your heart,

that is dying to self.
~ * ~ * ~

Five times in my life I have had the experience of giving birth to a child. Perhaps you have had that privilege, too. In a sense, that is also dying to self. Your own comfort, plans, and wishes are set aside in order to give life to another person. Then after the birth, you get up nights to feed this little one, change endless diapers, and basically take care of his every need no matter how you feel or what you were doing or trying to do. You die to self in order to care for the needs of another. But what a joy it is! Just as Jesus, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, so we as mothers also endure the demands in order to have the joy of bearing a child and caring for him.

When you have a moment, read Proverbs 31:10-31 and look for ways this godly woman demonstrated dying to self. She worked hard, reached out to the needy, got up early, brought her family’s food from afar, and learned skills with her hands. And she did all that with strength and honor, not demanding recognition for her labors.

I first found the poem “Dying to Self” almost 15 years ago. As I read it again now, I wonder how much better I’ve learned its lessons. Have I truly died to self?

Lord, help me to follow your example.

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