We hear this phrase all the time in our churches, and I think we have a “head” understanding of what it means. Our relationships with God and with others are supposed to be more important than anything we might want or desire for ourselves. I’m not sure if this translates to the heart though as dying to self can be a hard thing. First though, let me list some examples so I can illustrate what I’m trying to say.
Dying to self might include such things as letting your spouse have the last piece of cake or making sure your children have the things they need before getting something for yourself. It might be helping someone at work with a project and not taking any credit for yourself or going to visit that person who is sad and lonely when all you want to do is be wrapped up in a blanket on the couch and watch TV. I’m sure I could come up with many more examples, but I think you get the idea.
This also includes things about our relationship with God. Praying, reading Scripture, worshiping, and doing the things God wants us to do should come first before we think about ourselves. He doesn’t want us to dismiss a chance to serve Him before we have prayed about it and determined if it’s in His will for us.
Dying to self–I think this is the most difficult part of our relationship with God. It is not something that comes naturally to us. I know it doesn’t come naturally to me. We have a tendency to think more about ourselves and about having control over the things in our lives than we do about God or other people. Jesus even prayed about this in the garden before he was arrested.
From Matthew 26:38-42, “Then he (Jesus) said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.'”
Jesus went back to the disciples, found them sleeping again, and went to pray the same prayer for a third time. Then He and the disciples walked to meet those who were going to arrest Him.
My point in quoting all of this was that Jesus had the same struggles we do with dying to self. He prayed to God and was given the courage and strength to go to the cross. That courage and strength can be ours if we would only pray to our Lord and Savior and acknowledge His leading in our lives. He will help us die to self if we ask Him.
He did that for me earlier today as a matter of fact. Helped me not to act like a stupid fool when something came up that would take control from me and change the context of my day. I was not happy when it happened. In fact, I was very tempted to act like a stupid fool and throw a temper tantrum to get my way. I bit my tongue and cried out to God. I didn’t know what else to do. He was right there holding me up. First, He reminded me of where my focus was supposed to be and gave me the inspiration for this post. Then, He told me to keep my mouth shut and not say the hurtful things I wanted to say. Dying to self. Courage and strength. When I wrote the story with all its identifying details in my journal, I also wrote the words “keeping it real”. If we don’t share our stories with each other, how can we be strengthened for the job God has for us? In my opinion, we are left lacking which is why I shared this story today.
I pray that all of us will have the chance to die to self today and have our hearts in tune with what God wants for us and from us.
Praying God’s blessings for all of you today!