Mark 8:34-36 says:
"If anyone would come after me (Jesus), he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
What is Self-Denial?
What one feels like God is calling them to deny may not be the same as another...so how do we make sure that other's are doing a good job of "denying" themselves for Christ?
It is such an open ended field where self-denial can occur. You can start small or start big right off the bat. Do we as followers of Christ do this enough?
Do we deny ourselves or do we continue to fill our lives up with the nice but not-so-necessary things in life? How do we challenge someone else towards the act of self-denial?
Are these ways to practice self-denial (assuming you are doing it with the right state of mind and heart):
*Driving an older car for a longer period of time so you can save more and give more...
*Ordering from the dollar menu at fast food restaurants...
*Not buying overpriced Starbucks, etc.
*Shopping less for ourselves (do we really need that extra pair of sandals or swimtrunks?)
*Going to the movies less or buying less movies for home viewing...
*Not downloading 100 ring tones for your phone...
*Frivolous eBay purchases....
*Anything we stock up on and hoard like a pat rack under the category "Hobbies"
*Fasting once a week....
*Not watching a certain TV show to enable more time in the Word, Prayer, or Meditation
To me it seems like when I deny myself something, big or small, whether something like I listed above or completely different, it doesn't feel that painful. Usually an extra sense of peace comes over me. It's like my life is slightly more simple and thus more enjoyable. I feel God has a little more guidance over me and I'm a litle closer to Him. And others I talk to often feel the same way...So why do we sometimes have trouble adding to our self-denial list???
Obviously, we all have our own convictions. Everyone knows I don't get Starbucks for two reasons...I don't like their stuff and I'm cheap.
But, I did buy a Nintendo Wii "to better relate to youth" and to "relax and relive my childhood" so I say.
I won't buy a big, flat screen TV...but I will buy tickets to see My beloved Chicago Cubs.
I guess my thought for you is...Are you actively practicing self-denial? Do you continue to seek new ways that God is steering you towards self-denial?
For me, I see it as a competition...what can I give up for God?
Whether it's spending less $ or giving up something you love or your precious time....I pray we all find ways to deny ourselves for Christ so we can carry our cross in a new, previously undiscovered way.