“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—
such a person cannot be my disciple.
And whoever does not carry their cross
and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26-27 (NIV)
For most Christians, a sermon on our text for today has never been heard. The prevailing world view all around us is that we ought to love ourselves. Sadly the church generally has bought into this selfish mindset. According to some preachers we cannot love others until we love ourselves. Experience tells us this is not true. We can love others when we do not care much about ourselves.
Men and women who volunteered to fight in the two great World Wars had a self-sacrificing love for others. They risked their own lives for our freedom. They certainly put love for others miles ahead of love for themselves.
Jesus taught a way of viewing life that is the opposite of the popular belief of self-love. Jesus told us that we must put down the feelings of self-love that creep into our thinking and replace them with a love for others that causes us to sacrifice ourselves for the good of those around us.
Putting it in plain language, Jesus taught us that self love must drown in the ocean of love for others. We are commanded in Scripture to put the good and safety of others ahead of our own comfort. In Philippians 2:1-8 we are called on to have the self-sacrificing love and mindset that is seen in Jesus—when He voluntarily left the glories and privileges of heaven to come and live among us in all humility. Jesus even allowed Himself to be sacrificed on our behalf at a time when we did not care about Him.
As we think of this self-sacrificing love we are to possess, a voice within us urges us to be self-protective and not buy into this teaching of Jesus. We find ourselves thinking that this is going too far. We believe we need to be good to those around us but keep in mind that “Charity begins at home”, and look out for ourselves first and foremost.
If we are convinced that our lives are to be dedicated to serving the Lord we will find bearing up under trials of various kinds easier to bear. I may find my journey is painful at times but it does not matter so much because I have died to myself in order that I may live to the Lord.
I am the one who must give an account of how I have lived for the Lord in all situations. I answer to the Lord—He does not answer to me. Keeping that in mind, I fervently pray for strength for the day and ask for the assurance of His abiding love and gracious presence whatever comes my way.
Have you lifted up your cross in order to follow Jesus? Do you love Him more than yourself? Have you died to yourself in order that you might live to the Lord? If so then the trials you bear become less wearying and the days brighter as you follow in His footsteps of self-sacrificing love.