Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Lk. 9:23)
A disciple is one who receives instruction from and is a follower of another, receiving their principles and their commandments. To be a disciple of Christ, we need to reject our natural motives when they conflict with the Word of God. If we fail to do so, we find ourselves in danger of denying the Lord. Jesus emptied Himself of His Divine nature when He came to earth. Likewise, we, too, ought to empty ourselves of our human nature and take up the cross that has been given to us. Matthew Henry explains what it means to take up our cross in his commentary:
We often meet with crosses in the way of duty; and though we must not pull them upon our own heads, yet, when they are laid for us, we must take them up, and carry them after Christ. It is well or ill with us, according as it is well or ill with our souls. The body cannot be happy, if the soul be miserable in the other world; but the soul may be happy, though the body is greatly afflicted and oppressed in this world. We must never be ashamed of Christ and his gospel.
Are we seeking to satisfy the desires of our body or of our soul? Every day we wrestle within ourselves as we take tiny steps toward adopting into our lives His principles and His commands. When we heed our human nature, we tend to obligate ourselves for God’s sake, unable to find rest for our souls. We persist in seeking the elusive peace of God written about in Scripture, yet foreign to us. On the other hand, when we quiet our souls and focus on Jesus and His work on the cross, we find rest for our soul. Herein lies a foundational principle of the Christian walk that when we die to ourselves, we live to Christ. Death becomes life; we no longer seek worldly recognition but only to be known by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you a disciple of Christ, making daily efforts to adopt His teachings and His principles? Or are you seeking recognition owing to your own efforts? There is a worldly success recognized by power, fame, and money. There is a spiritual success known by love, joy, and peace. Take a few minutes this day to examine your heart and ask yourself which success you are seeking. Pray that you could agree with Isaac Watts and proclaim, “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God.”