The Cross and Sacrificial Love

Shellie Uncategorized Leave a Comment

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels. ~Mark 8:34-38

The World tells us that we need self-esteem, self-love, and self-care. I notice that many in evangelicalism are adopting and promoting “self.”  We see a society of ‘victims’ lamenting continually about how they have been wronged and someone must pay and pay dearly. Self-pity has become a badge of honor in a distorted world. Men are bad, women are wonderful. Feminism is a selfish god. It is a love of women, by women. In feminism there is no place for men.

Feminism has a lot to do with the “self-love” movement. 

You are not surprised I said that, are you? I think everything is connected to feminism. And I do. When it comes to the order of the family, I do believe we are reaping much of the rotten fruit of feminism. Do we see feminism in the Church? Sure, we do. Pragmatists always want to pick up the ugly, broken pieces of the world and try to “Christianize” it. Feminism is sin to the core. It is not redeemable. It must be killed, like all God hating sin. God hates feminism. All of it. 

But you may say “self-esteem” is good, or “I have to love myself,” or “self-care is important, if I don’t do it, I can’t care for others.” As believers we do not look to self. We look to Jesus, don’t we?

Yes, and let us again look to Jesus. That is where we should look when we are trying to figure out if our beliefs are grounded in Scripture or grounded in a worldly concept. 

Jesus lived His life on this earth. All 33 years, knowing how His life would end, and knowing He would be laying down His life, laying down His life for others. He came to this earth to glorify the Father in His life and death, a whole life of sacrifice and service to others. Jesus did not preach self-love and self-esteem, He preached the very opposite in sacrifice, humility, service, and obedience.

I tend to refer to 2 Timothy 3:1-5 as the description of what a narcissist is, as defined by the world. 

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: or men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! ~ 2 Tim 2:1-5

As we see climbing divorce rate it testifies to how these perilous times are gaining more and more traction.

Divorce is at the highest rate ever. Churches are accommodating and even encouraging divorce, many times with absolutely no biblical standing. But here we are. The world has said for many years now “do what feels good,” “Love yourself” “You deserve more,” “Your feelings come first,” and “Put you first.” Much of the visible church has followed

And I will tell you, those things are not the way to joy, peace, or contentment. Those mantras will only make you miserable, bitter and empty. Why? Because there is and never will be peace found in self. Firstly, we are sinners. Secondly, we are not God. 

Peace can only be found in God. Not stuff or people or even self. Only in Christ. He has told us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He tells us, the heavy laden with sin, to come to Him. That is us.

God has made us. And, if we are redeemed, we love Him and we love others. We are His. We no longer wish to serve self but rather earnestly serve God and our husband and family. They are our neighbors. To serve is to sacrifice. Christ sacrificed that which we never could. We are not worthy, but He is Worthy. Left to ourselves, our good works are as filthy rags (menstrual cloths).

As unrepentant sinners God’s wrath abided over us every day. Thanks be to God for His son that sacrificed for us. 

Sacrifice. Do, I think this sacrifice is easy? No. But neither was Christ’s sacrifice. Even in the Garden when Christ asked the Father, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done,” Christ submitted to the Father. 

Though our submission and selfless sacrifice to our husbands, children, and neighbors is not always easy, we do it because we love. We love because Christ first loved us. Before we were believers our idea of love, was mostly superficial and selfish. Sacrifice is hard. If it was easy it would not be a sacrifice. 

When we are in fine moods and the world is going our way, or we think that it is, if our husband asks us to do something for him, we have no problem serving him. But in those times that we do not “feel” like serving or sacrificing, these are the times God gives us grace. We can be stubborn and our flesh can complain but we do it anyway. And we are glad that we did. That is sacrifice. 

We have all been there; we are tired and cranky. The day has been long and the patience short. But we know on the days that we have held our tongues and got some much-needed rest, we have less regrets and sorrow. Holding our tongue is a sacrifice, especially when our flesh is pushing us. But when we control our feelings and emotions and put our husband and children ahead of them, we have sacrificed. We have cared more for another than ourselves. 

As God’s beloved children, we sacrifice for others. We are in our hearts naturally selfish, but our hearts are transformed when Christ saves us. He tells us to take up our cross. The cross is hard, sacrificial, and includes suffering. There are no flowery words that I can give to you to describe the cross that we are to “take up.”

This is the one single statement that Christians should not use unless they can quote the Scripture to back it up. What is this statement? It goes like this: ”God would not want me to live like this, or endure this or that.”

I remember hearing Elisabeth Elliot saying concerning our feelings and people voicing that God surely wouldn’t want them  to endure certain things: “But what about John the Baptist, Job or Stephen, and how about Christ”? Did God not know that they would suffer and what they would endure? Or what about the mother down the road, her husband had an accident at work, and now he can’t walk? She sacrifices every day for him, should we tell her that God would not want her to do so? 

Loving oneself has become so common place in our world that the sacrificial love is shocking to the world. The world rolls its eyes or accuses you of being abused, all because you want to honor God in putting others before yourself. 

Serving and sacrifice bring us joy and peace. When we are self-focused, everything is about us, our needs and wants. When that focus is put on others, we get real joy in serving others. 

Our Christianity calls us to die to self and live in Christ. Take the attention away from self and put it on Christ. Make much of Him. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, and we must decrease” Focus on Him: His sacrifice, His love, His sacrificial love.  

C.S. Lewis said, true humility is “not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.

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