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.
It is not what a man takes up, but what he gives up, that makes him "rich towards God." Now what ought a follower of Jesus to give up for his Master's sake?
1. Of course every man who would become a Christ's man must renounce everything that God's Word and a healthy conscience set down as wrong. All sins are "contraband" at the gateway of entrance to the Christian life. The sentinel at the gate challenges us with the command — "Lay down that sin!"
2. We must give up whatever, by its direct influence, tends to injure ourselves or others. Here comes in the law of brotherly love. The safe side of all questionable amusements is the outside.
3. Give up whatever tends to pamper the passions, or to kindle unholy desires. Paul's noble determination to "keep his body under," implies that there was something or other in Paul's fleshly nature which ought to be kept under. It is also true of almost every Christian that somewhere in his nature lies a weak point, a besetting tendency to sin; and just there must be applied the check-rein of self-denial Even eminent Christians have had to wage constant battle with fleshly lusts. Others have had sore conflict with irritable, violent tempers. When a servant of Christ is willing to take a back seat, or to yield the pre-eminence to others, he is making a surrender which is well-pleasing to his meek and lowly Master. One of the hardest things to many a Christian is to serve his Saviour as a "private," when his pride tells him that he ought to wear a "shoulder-strap" in Christ's army.
4. Another very hard thing for most persons to give up, is to give up having their own way. But the very essence of true spiritual obedience lies just here. It is just here that self-sufficiency, and vanity, and waywardness, and obstinacy are to be met. Here they must be sacrificed to that demand of the Master's, that He shall rule, and not we.
5. The last rule of giving up which we have room for in this brief article is, that time, ease, and money must all be held tributary to Christ. In these days of stylish equipage and social extravagance, how few Christians are willing to give up to Jesus the key to their purses and bank-safes I Too many go through the solemn farce of writing "Holiness to the Lord" on their property, and then using it for their own gratification.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.