Jesus says strange things about following Him…’Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple’ meaning ‘pick up your cross and die to your selfish desires’ and ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell’. And the Apostle Paul, ‘For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.’
What does that mean?
As I was at the light getting ready to get on the freeway there was a woman walking a dog I happened to notice out of the corner of my eye. I don’t know for sure if she was particularly attractive or not but I caught myself wondering why I needed to look at all. It was a test of will to discipline myself not to even give my eyes the opportunity to find something to dwell on. Even when no one else was looking or would even probably care if I looked to observe her I killed myself. I died. Right there. That moment. What was strange was that once I murdered my will, it went away. I realized that looking at her was not pivotal to my life but NOT looking at her was pivotal to it.
Why? Because unprotected emotional desire leads to sin of the head in thought and then sin of the hand in action. Then your sinful hands destroy your physical life. Or the lives of your children. Or your friends. Sin waits in your careless moments for a chance to strike and putting that desire to death by minimizing those careless moments is a mark of godly character.
As I was getting on the freeway I changed lanes and someone else wanted to merge into my lane in front of me once I got there. I knew that if I applied my brakes I would have to slow down and there was plenty of room for me to go ahead. Plus, I have a right to be here. As I was considering allowing a potentially slower person to have priority over me in ‘my’ lane, I killed myself. I died. Right there. Instead of zooming ahead and trapping that person in the slow lane with the people who were following me, I tapped the brakes and waved them over in front of me. No big deal right? Right. Except for my selfish will. It was a big deal for that so I killed it.
Committing physical violence is easy. Any undisciplined idiot can do that. Physical mutilation has no benefit to controlling sinful actions and since you are a creation of God, self abuse is wrong on many levels. But taking up arms against your selfish will takes strength and effort. Committing spiritual violence against the part of you that takes the opportunity to sin is a tremendously difficult task that takes discipline and the power of God.
Nothing will have mastery over me except Jesus. And that includes myself.
It was a beautiful violence that will bear spiritual fruit.
Do yourself a favor and ‘die’ to yourself today. Ironically by dying to your desires you will find abundant life and a life worth living. Strange isn’t it?