And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:23)
Some might not connect this verse with joy, but it is actually the path to true joy. In Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we look at a key verse that connects denying our selves, picking up the cross and joy.
If you look at some of the key words in Greek, you gain the HOW of walking toward Jess and toward joy.
Deny means to say “No” or repudiate — so to deny yourself could be applied to ask, “Is anything competing for my love for Jesus?” Sometimes our self wants to prioritize belongings, indulgences, hobbies, work or even relationships as more important than Jesus.
Pick up is to raise or lift. This reminds me of our call to lift Christ higher:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,... (Gal 6:14)
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” (Rev 5:3)
Follow mean to accompany Jesus. At the root of this compound word is a picture of walking alongside, as along the road or to join as a disciple. One example is :
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matt 4:18-20 emphasis added)
As you look at the year ahead, ask yourself:
How can I say “Yes” to Jesus and prioritize him as number 1?
How can I elevate and lift of Christ and the cross?
How can I follow Jesus closer, as a committed disciple?
Pam Farrel is author of 52 books including being co-author of Discovering Joy in Philippians, Discovering Hope in the Psalms, and Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher, from Harvest House Publishers). www.Love-Wise.com