Deny Yourself

I used to be drawn to the idea of self-denial. I went through a phase when the word “ascetic” struck me as a beautiful word. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been through church history classes. I’ve heard the stories of monks who lived in trees for a year, who mutilated their bodies, who lived as animals punishing themselves–and yes, I sat wide-eyed and swallowed hard as I concluded that they were insane. Or at least misled.

All the same, somewhere in the mix, I admired the fire of such men and women. “Lukewarm” would never be a label stuck on them. Jesus himself is the one who told his followers that we must “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him”, and I’m not often convinced that the Western Church in general (and myself more specifically) knows very much about that critical idea.

Today, I came across this blurb on the subject…

Sixteenth-century spiritual director Francois Fenelon clarifies a confusing biblical concept:

“Self-denial has its place in a Christian’s life, but God doesn’t ask you to choose what is most painful to you. If you followed this path you would soon ruin your health, reputation, business, and friendship.

Self-denial consists of bearing patiently all those things that God allows to pass into your life. If you don’t refuse anything that comes in God’s order, you are tasting of the cross of Jesus Christ.”

And that is what we are meant to taste of… of the “tree of life”.

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2 thoughts on “Deny Yourself

  1. I must say J that I enjoy reading your blog. You think and you are led with a good God filled heart and that is really refreshing in a “led my the big ME” world and church. Thanks for your insights. They come at the end of a day where I had an email from my uncle who had sent a link to an article describing the very disturbing tortured death of Christians in Turkey. I was physically sick after reading it and thought about how little I deny myself for His sake. SO having read this tonight I am sure it is the beginning of another journey to knowing what God has for my life. So again thank you for not just using your blog for mindless guck…
    s n p

  2. Thanks for the comment. I agree that when I witness those who truly do deny themselves for Christ, who would rather lay themselves down than turn their back on him… well, I’m both convicted and inspired. We need those examples. And I know that we need to be those examples. I love that idea above that by walking in this path, we will taste of the cross of Christ, and of all the power and life wrapped into it. And any lesser roads that I might choose… well, they are much lesser roads.

    And just to set the record straight, I have no shortage of mindless guck running through my head. No sir, never underestimate the power of my mind’s mindlessness. I’m average in most regards, but in such arenas, I am a force on most days!

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