These are the two quotes I have written on my dollar tree makeshift dry erase board, in my room. Why? Because in real life I tend to be a very selfish person!
Within the past month I was really convicted by a person I had recently come in contact with....I could just feel her love toward God and how much of a close relationship she has with God. Through witnessing her testimony I realized that is what I'm missing.....I want to be oh so much closer to God! So I decided to up my Bible reading, and book-ended my day with Bible reading, but still felt I could do more. So I picked up a book that has been in our house it seems forever, that honestly I had never read because it seemed like a boring book. Boy, was I wrong!! Since I began reading this book I have not ceased to be convicted about so many areas I need to fix. I have yet to finish the book, because I am still working on the first few chapters and don't want to move on lest I forget all the areas I need to strengthen and fix! Some of the ideas in this post are driven from this book, but most are just things the Lord has shown me through my time with Him.
My biggest problem I am working on is 'dying to self'. Dying to self encompasses so much in the Christian life. To be close to God at all, I must learn to die to self. Luke 9:23 "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." The cross was an instrument of suffering, to die to self or deny yourself what the flesh wants to do is a type of suffering. The suffering is so worth it in comparison with the fellowship and closer relationship we began to develop with our Savior!! Dying to self to many may seem like a small task, but if you have tried it at all you will know differently. Our emotions are not supposed to, but tend to rule any task we do, to deny them in EVERY situation is a tough thing to accomplish. How many times are we supposed to do something that we choose not to, because we don't feel like it? Things we should be doing for the Lord. How many times do we complain about what a certain person said to us? Or didn't do to us? Or we can't believe why we were treated this way? Or many times when someone says something that hurts you, and we respond in anger to the hurt we feel? Those (me included) who choose to complain this way have not yet learned to die to self. The flesh makes us feel every time we are wronged, we must say or do something to "defend" or "justify" ourselves. This is definitely not what the Bible teaches. 1 Cor 6:7-8 "Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren." Now I realize this is referring to taking your brother to court and such, but it's the same principle. The need to justify ourselves when we feel we have been wronged is definitely not dying to self. Jesus is our best example, and here is what the Bible says about Him. 1Peter 2:23-24 "Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the trees, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." Many times when we desire to justify ourselves to those who have wronged us, the moment we go about 'justifying' ourselves we become no better than those who have wronged us. The test of dying to self is when we are wronged or inconvenienced by someone and we can quietly shrug it off as though it's nothing, that is when we are learning to die to self.
It seems because I have been praying for the Lord to strengthen me in this area I have had all of these scenarios in about a week. I wish I could say I passed each test, but unfortunately I still have quite a bit of work to do! I have found though that if I place my emphasis on something else, it makes it easier to die to self. As I mentioned in the beginning of the post my biggest obstacle to dying to self is being selfish! Being selfish is defined as "lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure." This is obviously the exact opposite of dying to self. So to help put this into practice in real life, each day I am doing a job or jobs for someone else. All the things I have done so far are things I typically HATE doing myself, so doing them for others when it is not my job takes ALOT of dying to self. Many times I talk to myself, or sing myself through the jobs. Why do I do these? Because it is I who need to learn to not be selfish and to die each day to the things I want or do not want to do! So this is why both of those quotes are up in my room so I can see them each time I come in my room. I try to do all of these jobs as aggressively and positively as I can possibly do them! To be good at anything I must practice, and I have found that this has worked for me. As soon as I look at something and think 'that's not my job' it's like the Holy Spirit says 'it is now, die to that selfish desire!' I really am so thankful the Lord helps me through my learning of this dying to self daily. Some days it seems like I will never get this down, my flesh always wants to dictate what I do....and sometimes it does win.
In the end the responsibility of dying to self will not seem like a cross but rather a privilege to reflect the resurrected life. As Jesus had to die physically for me, so must I each day die physically to the flesh that I also may live the resurrected life. When a seed is planted in the ground, it does not cry or whine because the seed has to die to bring forth the life of whatever plant or vegetable it may be. The seed simply yields to the God Who created it, and dies to bring forth life. So also we rejoice when we see the beautiful bloom it produces. Dying to self is not in vain, it brings about a beautiful resurrected life that until our life is yielded, we can only imagine!!