Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24, NKJV
Jesus never asked anything of us that He wasn't also willing to do Himself.
What does it mean to deny yourself, anyway? Especially this time of year when every merchant is urging you to indulge your every whim--new car, expensive jewelry, the perfect suit...where does it end? Denying yourself doesn't sound like much fun, but is your happiness tied up in how much "stuff" you have?
How did Jesus deny Himself? Think about it--He is God's only begotten Son. The rest of us are sons and daughters only through His Son. He could have stayed in Heaven, on a cushy throne, indulging Himself in heavenly everything. He could have been born to a king--just like people expected--with a soft and warm feather bed, dressed in perfumed purple, the scents and color only royalty or the very wealthy could wear.
Instead, He followed His Father's wishes. A homeless couple, the mother unwed, born in a smelly stable, wrapped in rags, a feeding trough for a bed.
Unselfish. Giving. Healing. Blessing.
Everything Jesus did, he did for others. We can only hope a small part of what we do will bless others.
It's my prayer that you all (and I) will remember this especially is a season of giving. I invite you to take that amount you would have spent on a present for yourself and spend it instead on something for someone who will never know who to thank.
And the result will be a glow inside yourself that will beat out any temporary kick you get out of a new car or jewelry.
Dear Father, Thank You for inspiring this season of gift-giving. Thank You for creating us enough like You that our biggest joy comes in helping. You're the best. Amen.