Galatians 5:24 (NLT)
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.
It is so much easier to talk about self-denial and to admonish other people not to be selfish, self-congratulatory, or self-sufficient than it is to actually put that into practice in our daily lives. Dying to self is one of the biggest battles we must fight as believers. Being in Christ and allowing Christ to work in us and through us makes the victory just slightly easier to gain.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Dying to self means that we have willfully chosen to set aside our own passions and desires and focus on the loving God and serving others. It is giving God everything we have and everything we are and valuing others higher than we value ourselves.
Our part in all of this is to primarily and mainly surrender. We must yield and trust. We must confess, repent, and forsake the attitude and actions that tell us our way is best, our ideas are better than God’s, and what we have and can do is more important than everything else. To die to self is to sacrifice and to surrender. And there are no two ways to go about it as a child of God. It is not enough to say we are selfless or to say we are surrendered. We must BE it on the inside.
It is God who does the work in us and through us. But we must never confuse lazy acceptance of God’s work in our lives for the work we must willingly do by laying our life down so the God life and light can shine through us. We dare not rest in our comfortable pews at church and our spacious homes and secure jobs and think denying self is just going to wash over us like a cool breeze.
It doesn’t work that way. Death is difficult. Crucifixion in any form or way is excruciating, nearly unbearable pain. But if we do it, it moves us away from self-centeredness and closer to where we belong as open-hearted, deeply abiding, genuinely living believers and servants to those around us. In dying to self we find a life that is richer and more abundant in every way. We also find ourselves become more generous to others. It no longer is about us, it’s about Someone greater than us and people whose issues we deem more important than our own.
“Dying to self actually makes life easier because, for example, we can be content even when we’re overlooked.”
— Jan Johnson