“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NLT
Reading the Verse of the Day, I couldn’t help being struck by a few things.
1. Being a follower of Christ means going all the way to the cross.
Reflect on Christ’s life for a minute.
There were the miracles, but there were also the temptations.
There was a crowd of followers, but there were also the critics and naysayers.
There was the triumphant entrance on the donkey, but there was also the crucifixion at the cross.
The sum total of Christ’s experience was leading Him in one direction; to a cross to be crucified for you and me.
The cross signifies death…giving something up or laying something down. Could be unconfessed sins; could be bad habits; could even be your life.
Jesus laid His life down. What are we willing to lay down?
A Christian simply cannot escape the cross. We can’t pick and choose the parts of being a follower of Christ that we want. It is all one package.
The trick is to focus on what came after the cross. The resurrection!
The cross experience may be hard to handle today, but if Jesus did it, we can too.
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 NLT
2. It’s not about the cross, it’s about the crown.
Many of us are atracted to the life here on earth and the idea of giving it up doesn’t sit too well with us. Who would choose a cross willingly, they might ask.
But we are told that if we hold on to this life, we will lose it anyway.
However, give it up…give up our cherished sins…give up our bad habits…give up wanting things our way, and we will gain eternity.
Let’s not forget, a crown awaits us.
“And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return…” 2 Timothy 4:8 NLT
3. The cross is a daily thing.
Whether we want to believe it or not, we are in a battle.
The enemy knows that his time is short and so he is pulling out all the stops.
He is not above trying anything and everything to ensure that we are lost for eternity.
So every single day we must take up the cross.
Every single day we must ask God for help to overcome our temptations and to get through our trials.
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 NLT
We tell athletes all the time, “no pain, no gain”.
Well, it is no different for the Christian.
” …let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1c NLT