First off, the title to this post was partly to grab your attention (haha, it worked!) and partly to open a discussion on something that I struggle with; namely, dying to ones self. Paul talks about this extensively throughout his New Testament writings but it is also mentioned throughout the Bible. The idea is that we need to decrease so that God can increase. Our selfish desires, pride, self-esteem, ego, they all need to dissipate and eventually disappear until Jesus is our focus and his glory is our goal.
This is hard. I struggle with it every day. To put aside myself and focus on the will of God is contrary to what I’ve been taught my entire life. I go to work to make money to secure my future and the future of my family, I am married to secure affection for myself and for my wife, I lean into Jesus so that I can feel his love and grace. It is in every aspect of my life and is something that is a constant battle. We are to do all these things of course, but it is our motivation that needs to be examined. Are we living life for our glory or for the glory of our creator? Are we willing to put ourselves aside and live our lives for the glory of Christ and to accept his blessings on our lives rather than living a life with the constant compulsion to bless ourselves.
Before he went to the cross, Jesus begged the Father to spare him the horrors of crucifixion and separation from God. He knew what was ahead and he knew that he would rather not do it (that’s putting it lightly), but he said “not my will, but yours be done”. Jesus went to the cross putting his desires aside for the will of the Father. Sometimes I can barely go to the store, or to the mailbox even, without fighting my own selfish desires.
To die to ourselves is to submit in every way. It is a process and something that our sinful natures fight against. We will not accomplish it on our own. It is only possible through a transformation that comes from Christ. The idea that we could even come near to accomplishing it on our own, is itself a failure, because it is pride that says we can do it alone. The broken man says “Lord, I do not have the power, the strength or the knowledge to become what you’d have me to be. I place myself at your feet, to do with, however you see fit”.
I buck submission at every turn and often times even when I do bring myself to submit, I have selfish motivations for doing it. I can manipulate Gods word. I can try to bargain with him. I promise this or that if only he will help me out of one last jam. I find that I fight and fight and end up only beating myself up. Eventually I am crawling to Jesus, defeated by myself, and begging for the forgiveness, blessings, and grace that he wanted to give to me freely the whole time.
Lord, transform my heart. Where I have my mind made up, change it. Wherever I am not at your feet, knock me down and break the yoke of selfishness that I have put myself under. Your will is good and holy and perfect. Help me to die to myself and to live for you.