For Lord’s Day, February 3, 2013
I was struck this morning by a comment in a sermon I was listening to by Pastor Jeff Stivason of Grace RPC in Gibsonia, PA. He was preaching on Mark 14:1-11, and made a touching contrast between the woman who poured the precious ointment from her alabaster box over the Messiah and the subsequent betrayal of Jesus by Judas for money. She spent herself for Jesus; he sold Jesus. She was despised, he had been admired.
With this juxtaposition of persons in view around the Person of Jesus Christ, Pastor Stivason concluded: “Self denial is the mark of a disciple.” That’s something to meditate and act upon daily.
Our Lord said He came to give a more abundant life (John 10:10). Are your days abundant? If not, most likely, it is because you need to deny yourself more. Is your marriage abundant? If not, husbands need to love more unconditionally and wives need to respect more unconditionally (Eph. 5:33). Is your family abundantly living? If not, parents need to provoke less and children need to obey and honor more (Eph. 6:1-4). Is our church life robustly abundant with Christ? If not, we need to “connect the dots of love” more (1 Cor. 13:4-8). Are your private moments preciously abundant? If not, you need to stop feeding yourself with you.
Pastor Stivason pointed out that his text was set up earlier by this one: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:34-35)
I believe the breadth of this verse applies not only to having eternal life, but a good life. If you are angry, ungrateful, and dissatisfied all the time with your life, you need to remember and APPLY J.O.Y. (Jesus first, others second, you third). It’s hard, but simple.
May you and I be marked as disciples of Jesus Christ by living each moment of life that He gives us with the resolve of John the Baptist, who gave his head for our Lord: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). Not only is this the true mission statement for the life of a true Christian, it is what receives His blessed praise (see Mark 14:6-9), and if Galatians 2:20 is true of you, that’s all you care about now. As Pastor Jeff also said, self denial is what points to Jesus.
The next moment you are tempted to act in a way that deny’s Jesus is Lord, say out loud to yourself, “Self denial”, and enjoy a better life marked with more meaningful relations that better glorify the King of Glory. That moment will come soon enough. Will you say it? Will you do it? Remember Philippians 4:13.