There once was a time when I thought self-denial was noble and I marveled at the monastic life. However, looking back, I see a lot of selfishness in my motives. I wanted to deny self, not for God or others, but for my own sake; to make myself better. Below, Warfield calls us to pattern our lives after Jesus and his self-sacrifice, as “we are no longer are own, but we are bought with the price of his precious blood”:
“…Our self-abnegation is thus not for our own sake, but for the sake of others. And thus it is not to mere self-denial that Christ calls us, but specifically to self-sacrifice: not to unselfing ourselves, but to unselfishing ourselves. Self-denial for its own sake is in its very nature ascetic, monkish. It concentrates our whole attention on self—self-knowledge, self-control—and can therefore eventuate in nothing other than the very apotheosis of selfishness…. Self-denial, then, drives to the cloister; narrows and contracts the soul; murders within us all innocent desires, dries up all the springs of sympathy, and nurses and coddles our self-importance until we grow so great in our own esteem as to be careless of the trials and sufferings, the joys and aspirations, the strivings and failures and successes of our fellow-men. Self-denial, thus understood, will make us cold, hard, unsympathetic,—proud, arrogant, self-esteeming—fanatical, overbearing, cruel. It may make monks and Stoics,—it cannot make Christians.
He [Christ] was led by His love for others into the world, to forget Himself in the needs of others, to sacrifice self once for all upon the altar of sympathy. Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men strive, there will we be to help. Wherever men fail, there will we be to uplift. Wherever men succeed, there we will be to rejoice. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows: it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means entering into every man’s hopes and fears, longings and despairs: it means manysidedness of spirit, multiform activity, multiplicity of sympathies. It means richness of development. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives,—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. It means that all the experiences of men shall smite our souls and shall beat and batter these stubborn hearts of ours into fitness for their heavenly home. It is, after all, then, the path to the highest possible development, by which alone we can be made truly men.” —“Imitating the Incarnation,” B.B. Warfield.
Prayer by Bryan Jeffery Leech
Father, help me to TALK like a Christian:
to speak in such a way that I build up another person’s confidence in himself, instead of tearing down his reputation.
Father, help me to DRIVE like a Christian:
to be watchful and careful lest I cause harm to someone else on the highways.
Father, help me to GIVE like a Christian:
without thought of return, without anyone knowing what I do, and with Your approval as sufficient reward.
Father, help me to DRESS like a Christian:
by not attracting attention to myself for being too fashionable or too causal; and help me to show by my appearance that I want people to know me for what I am inside myself.
Father, help me to SLEEP like a Christian:
at peace with myself because sin is forgiven; and at peace with others because I do not allow my anger to last through a day.
Father, help me to EAT like a Christian:
to eat healthily, to eat moderately, to eat gratefully, giving thanks to You who provide my food, and for the one who prepares my food.
Father, KEEP ME from being so pious that I keep You out of the practical areas of life. Be with me when I am alone, and when I shed my inhibitions, lest in those moments I cancel out all that I seem to be when I’m on my best behavior.
Father, I ASK THIS because I follow a Master who was never guilty of the slightest wrong-doing, and who always showed His love in the small details of living. Amen.
From 42 to 4 days!
Our wedding day is so close! Thank you, sweet God, for the gift of Ransom. As I walk down the aisle, even though I will be looking at my future husband with deep love in my heart, I plan to set my heart on the greater truth that we are the Bride of Christ!
“Oh, what a day that will be when the eyes of the entire universe shall be turned in one direction and the glorious Christ, in the splendor of His Manhood and of His Godhead, shall take the hand of His redeemed Church and, before men and angels and devils, declare Himself to be one with her forever and forever! That will be the beginning of the marriage supper of the Lamb–it will be the publication to all of the great fact of mutual love and union!” – Charles Spurgeon
“Marriage. The roots are deep. The covenant is solid. The love is sweet. Life is hard. And God is good.”
Wow, has it really been 2 months since my last post? I’ve got the best excuse ever…wedding planning!
Here’s something to make you smile. If you have time on youtube, check out his impressions of Robin Williams in the video “Never Had a Friend Like Him.” He LITERALLY turns into Robin.
The Belgic Confession
Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence
“We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement. Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly. We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.
This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground *without the will of our Father. In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will. For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.”
It took me some time to settle on this, but here’s my scripture passage for year 2015! Two different people sent me this passage on my birthday and I just can’t stay away from it. Reading it is like drinking a tall glass of cold water; refreshing in its truth. It’s replete with God’s powerful action, redemption, deliverance, salvation, hope for the future, excitement (hence my added exclamation points in the title), and refreshment (tall glasses of cold water a.k.a. rivers in the desert). What verse(s) are you focusing on this year, beloveds?
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”