"Then He said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must DENY themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" Luke 9:23
2014 is just a couple of days away, and people are already making that list. You know the list…the New Year's Resolutions list. Do you know what the most common New Year's Resolutions are? The most common ones are as follows: to lose weight or to exercise more; to save more money or to get out of debt; to quit smoking, drinking or other addictive habits; to read more or to get more education; to volunteer or to do more charity work. I looked over many lists from different areas around the country and the world, and I continued to see one thing in common about all of these lists. Almost every resolution could be viewed as self or inward related goals. In other words, most of the resolutions were selfish. Only one really stood out to me as being outward related: to volunteer or to do more charity work. I certainly think that we need to better ourselves in many areas, but I don't believe that New Year's Resolutions are the way to go about that. Most studies show that the majority of people who make the New Year's Resolutions list break one or most of those resolutions within the first month of the new year.
In 2014, I want to challenge you to embrace DENY. What is DENY? Jesus said in Luke 9:23, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must DENY themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." DENY is a challenge that you and I can embrace. DENY what/who? DENY self. Instead of looking to please self or to help self, let's look to please God. Let's look to help others. Instead of trying to lift ourselves up and make ourselves known, let's lift up God in everything we say and do. Let's make God known to everyone we come in contact with. Take John the Baptist, for example. He came with a message about Christ and only Christ. His goal was to make Him known. His goal was to advance God's kingdom. He DENIED self. Take Jesus, for example. Everything He did was for His Father and for others. Every word and every action was to glorify the Father and to bring others into His loving presence. He DENIED self. You and I can do much better than making some New Year's Resolutions list that won't make it past January 31. We can chose to live a life of DENY. We can wake up daily and embrace DENY. We can choose to take up the cross daily and follow Christ. In 2014, let's choose to DENY.