Saturday, May 2, 2009

Verse of the week - Matthew 16:24

Amy Carmichael faced any number of inconveniences and discomforts in her adjustment to life in Japan. The food, the transportation, the dress, the schedule, all introduced to her experiences quite foreign to her upbringing. In Elizabeth Elliot's biography of Amy she says that Amy saw these not as culture shock, but as "the expected terms of her chosen discipleship, the first condition of which is, according to the Master's words, 'he must give up all right to himself.'"

The full context of that verse, Matthew 16:24, says, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." The depth of "denying" plunged me into the Greek.

Denying comes from the Greek word ἀπαρνησάσθω. The definition speaks of utterly denying, disowning, abstain. We need to leave ourselves entirely behind. Give up our rights to the fullest, that is our first job if we desire to walk in His footsteps. Not just setting myself in the backseat driver position, not holding more loosely to our rights or preferences, but completely, utterly denying ourselves.

In reading this I also hadn't noticed before that it says, "his cross," referring to the follower's cross. Reading it as one removed from the context by 2000 years I immediately thought of Christ's cross, but the listener didn't have the richness of Calvary in their thinking. The cross did still represent a loss of rights, a loss of life itself. as verse 25 goes on to say, "whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."

In dying we truly live, in losing we find, in surrendering we claim victory, in selling our everything we gain the greatest treasure. We cannot even comprehend how great the reward that awaits us after death as we stand in awe of the One, the Great I AM and throw it all at His feet knowing it still pales in comparison to His great love and sacrifice on our behalf.

I think about this in context of marriage as well, but that will lead into another verse, so it will wait until next week. For now, I have enough to think and act on. Giving up myself, taking up the cross (the perfect picture of self-denial and love for others over self), and following, carefully following.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples,
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow me.

~Matthew 16:24~

Can I pray for you?
If you would like me (and other readers) to pray for you, please leave a comment. Be as specific or vague as you would like in asking prayer for yourself or a loved one. I will come back to this post each day and pray over the requests left here and would encourage you to pray for each other as well. This is an incredible privilege we have to raise up the weary hands and challenged emotions of those around us, and have others lift us up as well. If you have praises or updates I welcome those as well! ~Thank you for this privilege

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