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Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)
What does it mean to deny myself?
The primary thing that springs to mind is the idea of doing without things desired – a picture of a monk leading a strict and harsh life, far from luxury.
Although the concept of doing without is found in the dictionary under “deny”, the first definition under “deny” is “to declare untrue”. Of course the dictionary was referring to denying a statement, but I began to wonder if it might apply to denying oneself.
If I declared myself as being untrue, I would point to someone or something outside myself as the ultimate source of truth – it could not be found in me.
If I declared myself as being untrue, I wouldn’t trust my feelings or my interpretation of the facts.
If I declared myself as being untrue, I would admit that I am not right, that my ways are not right, that I indeed have a sinful nature that desires what is contrary to what God desires.
Is that not what Jesus is asking us to do? We must acknowledge Him as the only true one. God’s ways are always right.
We are called to choose His way rather than our own, to surrender our will to Him and to follow Him where ever He leads.
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Question: What does the idea of “declaring yourself untrue” mean to you and your approach to God?