Take up your cross.
We say it so effortlessly, so flippantly. But that’s because we read it figuratively. It’s estimated that a Roman cross weighed three hundred pounds, and even if Jesus carried only the crossbar, it was still placed on raw flesh that had just been flogged! And He carried it no less than 650 yards down the Via Dolorosa.
In my book "Play the Man," I introduce seven virtues of manhood. I want to do the same in these YouVersion devotions. The first virtue is tough love. Here’s what I mean by that: Being a tough guy doesn’t mean sticking up for yourself when you get offended. A true tough guy sacrifices himself for the sake of others.
Jesus didn’t just carry a three-hundred-pound cross; He carried the weight of the world. Every offense ever committed was placed on His shoulders, and He carried it all the way to Calvary.
Tough love like this is far more difficult to attain than physical toughness, and far more important. It sets the men apart from the boys! A tough guy isn’t someone who can blacken an eye or bloody a nose; it’s someone who is willing to be nailed to a cross for someone he loves.
So let’s get it straight in our minds. Tough love is sacrificial love—a love that is willing to be nailed to a cross for someone else’s sin. Tough love is unconditional love—a love that is not dictated by someone else’s performance. Tough love is covenantal love—for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.
If you’re married, it’s easy loving your wife when everything is going great, right? When it’s not going great, it’s not so easy. Why? Because our love tends to be reactive. Tough love is proactive. It’s not a need-seeking love; it’s a need-meeting love. It doesn’t seek validation, because it doesn’t need any! It adds value to the beloved.
That’s what it means to carry your cross. That’s what you’re called to.
So toughen up.
Play the man!
How can you show sacrificial love to another today, regardless of how tough it is for you?