What if self-denial was a vehicle to helping us become more intimate with Jesus?
If self-denial out of love for us is at the core who who Jesus is, one of the best ways for us to understand that love is to walk in it ourselves. Self-denial for the sake of God, not for the sake of self-denial, can give us a unique window into the heart and mind of Jesus that we would have never known otherwise! It is those moments of sweet clarity about how pure the love of God is that change us forever - that is motivation within itself to learn self-denial!
Like I said above, self-denial must be Spirit-led and not done impulsively. I encourage you to take time to listen to God, to let Him “Search you and know your heart. Test you and know your anxious thoughts. Point out anything offensive in you, and lead you along the path to everlasting life” (Psalm 139 23-24). It is then, after God’s Spirit has gently shown you the areas in your life in which you can become more like Christ, that you can wisely begin to practice self-denial.
Here are a few nuggets from the chapter that would be beneficial to consider…
“The more you deny yourself, the more the scales fall off of your eyes.” If you are wanting clear perspective on something, it often helps to remove yourself from it so that God can speak to you clearly.
“The simple truth is that the Lord Jesus honors self-denial… He rewards it with grace to gain personal purity and holiness.” God sees your efforts to rid yourself of anything that is not of Him - He will help you!
"When something is practiced in excess, you cannot have a voice to that while practicing it in moderation.” Now, take that with a grain of salt - remember that is Sorge’s opinion, not necessarily God’s. But the principle is true - if you want to gain perspective on a certain thing/activity, it helps to be completely removed from it (for a period of time) so that you are not influenced by anything but God’s perspective in how you see it.
“Answers, guidance, direction, insight - all seem to flow more freely when self-denial is freely and willingly embraced with grace in the heart.” Fasting makes space for God to speak to us!
Self-denial is beautiful because it makes us like Jesus. Enter into it wisely, but when you do, embrace it whole-heartedly.
Bailey Meyne, DL