DEVOTION – DAY 103
Matt.16:24 “Taking Up Our Cross”
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me.”
Some Christians have the mistaken idea that once they become Christians, they will experience God’s love and blessings. They may have got that impression from listening to testimonies from other Christians about how good God had been to them. God is indeed good and loving but nowhere in the bible is there a verse that tells us that life will be like a bed of roses when we become followers of the Lord Jesus. Instead, the opposite is true. Verses like Matt.16:24 had Jesus telling His disciples that they must be willing to deny themselves and take up the cross if they were to follow Him.
What does “taking up the cross” mean? The cross is different for every one of us. Taking up the cross is anything that we would naturally not want to do, but we do it out of submission to God’s will and command for us. As a new Christian, taking up the cross could be as simple as going to church on Sunday mornings. Before we were a Christian, we enjoy sleeping late on Sundays because it is the one day of the week we do not need to work. But when we become a Christian, we are told that we should go to church services on Sunday mornings. We find that we have to make a choice. To sleep late which is what we would like to do or to get up earlier on Sundays and go to church. That simple sacrifice we make to go to church is taking up the cross. We have denied our own desire to sleep late on Sundays.
In our Christian walk with the Lord, there will be countless times when we have to make a choice to take up our cross and deny ourselves. Some of us may have to turn down well paid jobs because we know those jobs would end up corrupting us. Some of us may have to refuse to take a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend to a deeper level if they remain as unbelievers. Some may have to put their careers on hold while we spend time to take care of aging and ill parents. We know someone who had to give up a holiday so that he can fulfill a commitment he made to the Lord. These are just some day to day examples of someone denying themselves and taking up the cross. Some people may say that they want to follow Jesus but sooner or later, a time will come where we have to back up what we say with our actions. We will be called to make a choice to take up our cross and deny ourselves, or to put our own desires and interests first.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you have given us a wonderful example. You did not spare your only Son, the Lord Jesus who went to the cross on our behalf. We owe Him everything. Help us to willingly take up our cross and follow Him in every situation. In the precious name of the Lord Jesus we ask. Amen.
- What cross are you prepared to take up to follow Jesus this week?
- Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Who is your neighbor? What can you do for someone this week as you would like done for yourself, that is like taking up your cross?
- Why is taking up the cross so hard for us? Why is it necessary? Discuss.