Self esteem, self help, inner self, self talk, self service, help yourself, be yourself, love yourself, and the list seems to never end. There is nothing inherently wrong with any word or phrase on that list. God loves you and He has good plans for you. However, there is something awry with how often these words find their way into describing a life of following Jesus.
Here’s why. Jesus illustrated our faith in stunning contrast to most of what we hear in today’s world—sometimes even in contrast to what we hear in churches. He did so with these two rather inconvenient words: deny self.
Jesus had just finished telling His closest friends and followers that He’d eventually be killed before He was raised back to life. At that, Peter, part of Jesus’ inner circle, scolded Jesus for talking that way. “Heaven forbid,” He said. It’s as if He was saying, “God wouldn’t let You experience something so hard, Jesus!”
Jesus sternly rejected Peter’s reasoning as “human thinking,” right before He let Peter and the rest of us know what it would really be like to follow Him. Enter those inconvenient words. Deny self.
As you spend some time praying and meditating on today’s Scripture, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you may have allowed “human thinking” to inform the way you understand what it means to follow Jesus.