Life can only be spent. Not one second can be saved or stored up for later, but every second must be spent. Once gone, time can never be recovered. Therefore, the one who would steward his time well spends his hours and minutes wisely and carefully. The issue for every person thus becomes, “How shall my life be spent?” What will be my legacy? How will my life be evaluated when I am gone, and my life is over?
In a brief section of Scripture in Matthew 16:24-27, Jesus declares to all His would-be disciples how to spend their lives for the highest possible purpose.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus lays out for His would-be disciples the “terms of engagement.”
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
If you wish to follow Jesus, you must commit your whole being for as long as you live.
“Deny himself” – My will and my ambitions have been placed permanently underneath Jesus’ will and His purposes (John 3:30). I have become a bondservant of Jesus. I have “denied” Roy Britton in the sense that he now exists only in reference to Jesus Christ. This is what it means to deny oneself.
“Take up his cross” – My service to Jesus is service that only ends at my death. In the Roman Empire, when a person was convicted of a crime and thus took up his cross, he knew his life was over. The cross was an instrument of death, and the Roman cross never failed to execute its victim. The one who took up his cross knew he would soon be taken down dead from that cross.
Now Jesus calls anyone who wishes to be His disciple to take up his own cross. Thus, all disciples of Jesus are being crucified (Gal. 2:20). They no longer live, but Christ lives in them. Suffering for Christ, service to Christ, and sacrifice for Christ are accepted as expected experiences of the cross I carry. Having taken up my cross, Roy Britton has already died (Colossians 3:3), and now my crucified life is entirely poured out for Christ.
Now the disciple of Jesus consciously carries his own cross to identify with Jesus. I have met Jesus, and my life will be poured out for Him. I carry my cross so that others may know that Jesus is my Lord and Master. My life is not my own, but rather I have become a living sacrifice. Each day I remember that I am carrying my cross (Luke 9:23) so that others may see the glory and the worth of Christ.
“Follow Me.” – The preceding steps must culminate in the obedience of following. The one who has denied himself proves that denial by following Jesus. The one who has taken up his cross to bear the reproaches of Jesus until death, confirms the burden he is bearing by his obedience to the Lord Jesus in all things. Wherever Christ leads me, there I willingly go.
Spending your life in service and submission to the Lord Jesus is how you spend your life for the highest possible good. But even the stated desire to live this way requires passing an entrance exam. Will you deny yourself and will you take up your cross and will you follow Jesus in obedience?
SDG rmb 10/26/2021 #443