Deny myself, are you serious? Is that really something that I want to do? Denying yourself is saying no to yourself. Why should I do that? That is the opposite of what the world tell us to do. Yet, this is what we need to learn self-denial.
As we look to grow and achieve all that God is calling us to do, we need to overcome the heart issues that hinder us reaching our goals. To overcome the hinderance of self-indulgence we need to learn to deny ourselves.
As I began to think about what is the discipline that we need to overcome self-indulgence, I was thinking that it was self-control. As I thought more about this while I was baking chocolate chip cookies, I began to think about self-detail. I was trying to have self-control but with warm chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter it was difficult. Self-control is good virtue and we will look at that as we work through Fruit of the Spirit but I think the discipline that will overcome self-indulgence is self-denial.
That is means instead of limiting my cookies I need to say “no” to the cookies. Not easy, but it is worth it. We don’t like to say no to ourselves.
What does the Bible say about self-denial?
Jesus told his disciples “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24. (ESV) This passage is included in all the Synoptic Gospels. That gives us an indication of how important it is. The context for this verse is Jesus foretells his death and resurrection. Then after telling the disciples that they need to deny themselves he is putting it in the context of eternity.
Denying ourselves is not for glory but so that we can follow Christ. We need to deny those things that are making it difficult to follow Christ.
Another reason to deny ourselves is for the benefit of others and not to cause others to stumble. Paul was willing to deny himself eating meat if that was going to cause his brother to stumble. (I Corinthians 8)
Fasting is a form of self-denial. We are saying no to something so that we can draw closer to God.
The discipline of self-denial is learning to say, no. We need to be walking in the Spirit and listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit so we know what things we are to say no to.
I challenge you to practice saying no to yourself. Maybe it is saying no to warm chocolate chip cookies or saying no to spending money on something you don’t need. Learn to say, “no”.
Look at your goals. Are there areas that you have been self-indulgent and need to practice learning self-denial.
What areas do you find that you are tempted to self-indulgence?
Learning to deny yourself is not easy but as we grow in the discipline we will see God in new ways. We will grow. It might be that we see him provide as we deny ourselves.