“So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us too, put aside every impediment - that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement - and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us, looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua - who in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent. Hebrews 12:1-3 (JNT)
When I made the decision to walk in obedience to God, there was one particular “thing” that had to go in my life first. What was it? This! I felt it was so important for me to feel loved by people. I struggled with this from every angle of my life. I wanted people to like me, I did not want people to be mad or upset with me, and I would do just about anything to keep them from being mad or upset with me, just so they would love and like me!
God put His finger on this area of my life right up front! He had to change my thinking in this area completely. I let people manipulate me into doing what they wanted. God made me realize I was sacrificing myself for whomever, and not for Him!
From my husband to my children, to my friends, to the people at church. Whatever suited their fancy, is what I did to make them happy. Whatever their emotions dictated, that is the way it went. Now, my emotions were in on this too, I wanted to be loved. Many times, I knew what they wanted was not best, but I went along with it, because I wanted them to love me, and I could not stand it if they were upset with me. Let me give you an example. My husband and I used to sit in the evenings and watch movies. Whether the movies were on the TV, or whether they were from video store, we did that just about every night together. My husband loved TV and movies more than you could imagine. Suddenly, one morning God told me no more! He was asking me to give that up, pronto! Now! Do you think this made my husband happy? He wanted me to sit with Him and watch movies, and or TV. But God was saying He did not want me to! Who was I going to make happy, God or my husband? I went with making God happy. It was not easy, there were some arguments, and there were some nasty comments. I soon found out though, I did not have to give in and watch movies for my husband to be happy with me or love me. He did anyway, and at a point in the future even told me, “I have great respect for you for standing up for what God tells you to do!” He eventually gave up TV also!
So, what was I doing? I was trying to be what I thought was a “godly” wife, mother, sister, friend, counselor, grandmother, and daughter. I thought I was “laying down my life for my friends and family” like they taught in church. Wrong! With this kind of thinking, and teaching in my head, I was getting in God’s way not only in my own life, but in the lives of the people I was sacrificing myself for. But, most of all, I was not sacrificing myself for God and what He wanted in my life, it all was an attempt to make others happy, and get them to love me. Only God can tell you what is good for you, and for others. There was a show on TV when I was much younger, it was called, “Father Knows Best.” Let us change the title a little, ‘THE Father Knows Best.”
God taught me this, if people love me, they are going to love me anyway, even if I do not always do what they want me to do. Even if I do not give in to their selfish desires, if they love me, they will love me anyway. I always thought, I could make people happy with me, if I did what they wanted. Know what? Most of the time no matter what I did for them, they were not happy with me, and the more I did for them, the more they wanted. During this process in my growth with God, I found out who the ones who really loved me for me, and the ones who loved me for what I could do for them.
I have a friend who shared what happened regarding what God taught her about herself. This is what was shared to me: There are some people who feel that they simply must have time alone to do what they want to do. They feel like, and the world teaches it to a certain extent, that for us to be mentally healthy and at peace with ourselves, we must have down time! We must have that free time alone doing what we want to do. My friend said, “You know in the very beginning it was very rare if God gave me any down time, I was lucky if I got any.” From early childhood, this teaching and what they saw modeled to them created a problem. To sum it up they were taught to just get away and do what they wanted to do. That was a big thing in their family, when you were to the point you just could not take it anymore, take a vacation. Example: “I have all this work to do, I have all this pressure on me, I’m going away for the day” It was a very normal thing, if you were overwhelmed you would take a vacation, or take some down time. Just do what you must do to get away. Getting away that was the answer to life’s stressors. It caused this person for a long time to rely on things, nothing at the same time it could have been anything from watching the weather channel too much, to a whole bunch of other things. But the point was, it was not anyone thing, but whatever it was, it kept them from running to God with their issues and settling them. It caused them to be thinking of themselves, the emphasis was on themselves, and taking care of themselves. They said, and I quote, “If I had just put half of that time, into just working out my issues with God and into just working out my calling with God I would be ahead of the game right now, about five years ahead of the game. God told me that, I would be five years ahead of the game.
I was taught the ideal thing to do under stress was, ‘Relax, put your feet up, take a vacation, take a break, get away for the day.’ That type of thinking gets imbedded in your head, so that when you do have issues, and you do have problems instead of fighting through them and facing the issues with God; you only face about half the issues. If I had faced my issues appropriately, like I said I would be five years ahead of the game.”
In Order to Die to Self
1) In order to die to self, you must make a conscious decision to put God first!
If you begin the process of dying to self in accordance with how you think it should be done you are doing what you think is best! You will be making sacrifices for everybody else and at the same time, gaining attention, recognition, approval, and respect for yourself and the sacrifices you make are going to be for everybody else but – God! God must say, which things must go out of your life, or it will not work!
2) In order to die to self, you must acknowledge and admit that you do not really need everything you have been praying for, or wishing for, or striving for.
You may want the things you are praying for, but you do not really need them in order that Christ can work through you. Isn’t that what it is all about any way? The old you must die, and the work of Christ goes on through you. For that to happen you need in your life what God says you need! Other than that, you do not need anything else. So, you must acknowledge and admit all those things you have been praying for, all those things you think you need to be happy, all those things you need to feel fulfilled or successful really do not matter, and really do not count. You must admit you really do not need them to do Christ’s work! It goes to the question of: is this stopping me from fulfilling my calling? Or is this stopping me from fulfilling what God has instructed me to do? Because if it is not, and you do not really need it to do what God has told you to do - than it is not important and it is not a need.
3) Dying to self, consists of your attitude towards the people around you, what they have and what they need.
You can look at a rich family or a celebrity and think, “Oh, what did they do to get all that stuff, they have everything they could ever want.” But do they have what they need? How many Hollywood marriages fall apart? Most! How many people that are rich are happy? Not many! Why? They do not have what they need. The more you have of what you want the more selfish you become and the more you lose sight of what is important in life. Is this why Jesus said, “it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Why? Because they lose sight of what is important and what really matters. They really do. The more you get of what you want the harder it is for you give up those “things”, and instead acquire what you need for your calling. Your focus can become totally off what you need and everything on what you want. And, when you have a family where everybody is living for what they want - you have nothing but selfishness, turmoil, fighting, bickering, jealousy, and envy. You have nothing but that. Why? Everyone’s focus is on their self.
It Is Taught
It is taught in the churches the moment we say the sinner’s prayer, we are “saved”. It is taught the minute we say the sinner’s prayer, we get all the Holy Spirit we ever need. It is taught the moment we say the sinner’s prayer we are transformed. It is taught the minute we say the sinner’s prayer we are “dead to sin”. NO! We are not! Our salvation is a daily process! Each morning you get up and you choose whether you are going to pick up that cross “daily” and let it crucify your old self! Each day you make a choice to do just that!
“Then to everyone he said, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘NO’ to himself, take up his execution stake daily and keep following me. For whoever tries to save his own life will destroy it, but whoever destroys his life on my account will save it. What will it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but destroys or forfeits his own life?” Luke 9:23-25 (JNT)
“Most “how to” books advise the ambitious to look out for Number One to get ahead in the world. Jesus’ advice is exactly the opposite; put aside selfishness to get ahead in Heaven; advancement in this world will follow as a consequence (12:31), Mk 10:29-30). His follower must treat his life apart from God as the life of a capital criminal, to be nailed on the stake and put to death.” (JNTC)
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