Y’all……following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
When I test and examine my heart with the scriptures, it becomes quite easy to identify the areas of weakness in my walk with Jesus:
Am I dying to myself when I choose to start my morning scrolling through my social media feed rather than opening my bible & spending time with the sovereign creator of the universe?
Am I presenting my body as a living sacrifice when I neglect rest & I am irritable because I haven’t eaten enough?
Am I walking by the spirit when I rationalize my sin & ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
Am I demonstrating compassion when I am easy to anger & quick to forgive?
Am I showing kindness with my words when I am sarcastic or rude?
Am I walking in humility when I spend 15 minutes trying to come up with the right caption & filter for my latest Instagram post (come on, we all do it)
Am I acting meek when I talk more than I listen?
Am I patient when I decide to take matters into my own hands?
Do I really approach God with fear and trembling when I scroll through social media in the AM rather than opening up my bible & asking God to speak?
There are many, many days where I don’t feel like “being like Jesus”… & I often don’t believe that I even have it in me to live up to half of what he has called me to do.
The world is too dark.
The enemy is too deceptive.
My sin feels too good.
I am too weak.
The truth of the matter is, we don’t have enough in us to live like Jesus. We are absolutely nothing apart from him.
We can’t escape the corruption of the world.
We can’t out smart satan.
We can’t resist our sin.
We can’t, but God can.
His word tells us that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more.¹ He lavishes his grace upon us.² He became sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God, free from all guilt, shame, and penalty for our inability to save ourselves.³
Why did he do all of this despite the infinite number of ways we fail him each day?
Because he loves us. He loved us while we were still sinners, when we trampled on the gospel and rejected the good news. He still loves us, even when our sanctification process seems to be at stand still. His love heals, his love transforms, & it is only his love that can bring us joy while dying to ourselves.
Many times we know what we need to be doing in our heads but our hearts aren’t convinced. We are torn between the prompting of the Holy Spirit & our flesh. In that moment we must decide: Are we going to choose Jesus, or are we going to do what we want to do?
Are we going to spend time with Jesus or scroll through Facebook for 30 minutes?
Are we going to bite our tongues, or are we going to blurt out the first thing that comes to our minds?
Are we going to present God with our prayers and petitions, or are we going to create scenarios in our head & worry about things that may or may not happen?
Are we going to give into our sin, or are we going to justify it & minimize it?
Choosing Jesus won’t always feel like the best option; it may in fact be the most painful option. It often doesn’t feel good at first. The immediate satisfaction may not be there. The pain may still be present. It will be uncomfortable, unnatural, & maybe even a bit awkward. Depending on how long the sin has been rooted in our hearts, it could take a lot of time to heal from the consequences of our sin.
But every time we say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to ourselves we take a step towards freedom, satisfaction, wholeness, healing, & true joy.
Choosing Jesus is the best option. When we are willing, he is able to set us free from strongholds and sin patterns that have held us captive for years. He equips us. He fights for us. He faces the battle head on when it takes all of our energy to get out of bed. He does all of this for us because he loves us. He doesn’t want us to be ripped off. He doesn’t want us to believe the lies from the enemy. He isn’t waiting to cast us down & condemn us for our sin, he wants to save us from it. When we understand this love, we are free to obey God & love him back because we genuinely believe that he knows better than we do.
Jesus, because I love you, I will trust you.
Jesus, because I love you, I will abide in your word.
Jesus, because I love you, I will confess my sins, repent, & turn away from them.
Jesus, because I love you, I will do what you think is best for me.
Jesus, because I love you, I will pray by the spirit.
Jesus, because I love you, I will praise you even when it hurts.
Jesus, because I love you, I will forgive those who have hurt me.
Jesus, because I love you, I will take heart in the power of the cross.
Jesus, because I love you, I will walk by faith, not by sight.
Jesus, because I love you, I will test my feelings against your truth before I speak or act.
Jesus, because I love you, I will take up my cross daily, die to myself, & follow you.
Not because I feel obligated.
Not because I need to impress you.
Not because it will earn me more love.
Not to impress other people.
Not for my own glory, but for yours.
You have already taken up your cross for me, more so than I have (or ever will) do for you. It’s not just, it’s not fair, & it’s not deserved, yet you did it anyways, out of love, a love that always runs deeper than my sin.
- Romans 5:20
- Ephesians 1:8
- 2 Corinthians 5:21