Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dying to Self

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

2 Corinthians 5:14- 15
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 

I started writing this "d" post about the word Devotion but that post turned into more of and "e" post. So you will have to wait till tomorrow for that one.  So I'm back to the drawing board for my "d' word but I think "d" is for dying to self. 

Its funny it had been one of my first thoughts but then I settled for something more warm and fuzzy like the word devotion. There are topics and verses in the bible that I have to wrestle with. What does that mean, and how do I even begin to live that out. Some things seem down right impossible. I shake my head and wonder, do I dumb things down and settle for easy answers or do I wrestle and study and seek God till eventually He helps turn the light bulb of my understanding on. The whole idea of dying to self falls into a whole area that I find myself having to wrestle with. 

How dead is dead enough? If I am honest there are parts of me that have a hard time dying. 
About the time I think some area is taken care of - I am quickly reminded how un-dead it really is. I like the following CS Lewis quote because when we come to Jesus we usually have realized that something is broken and not working but we are kind of clueless about what all really needs done. 

""Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself!"  CS Lewis

 Luke 14: 25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

I have often wondered about the use of the word "hate" in verse 26. The Reformation Study Bible gives this commentary.  14:26 hate. This means to love less (cf. Gen. 29:31, 33; Deut. 21:15–17, where “unloved” translates a word meaning “hated”). Discipleship means loving the Master so much that all other loves are hatred by comparison.

That helps - I don't have to literally hate my family and myself for that matter but I need to remember who is the priority.  Is it to do my will or Jesus' will?  Will I be selfish and demand that my family jumps at my every whim or will I jump to serve them?  I will be the first to admit that I have a long way to go in this whole death to self thing. I am quick to protect myself from things that might bring pain or embarrassment. 

Did He really want us to die to all of our self? Dead seems so extreem, so final, so... dead. 
So I'm the chalk out line on the floor after my dead caucus has been hauled off to the morgue. Ok so when my life is over - dead dead is one thing but how do you live and be dead. 

I remember as a pre believer that this idea of God talking control of my life was pretty intimidating.
After all I had a life and things that I wanted to do. I have found that it seems to be an on going project of me being able to let go of something I wanted to hold on and control and allowing Jesus to be the one who calls the shots in that area. 

Dead men don't complain about the flowers in the funeral service, or the songs sung, or what the preacher or the family say. None of it matters to the dead person - cause they are dead. Those things matter to the living. 

I think of people who have had near death experiences and how that experience often causes them to re examine their priorities. If I remember I am dead to the old life and alive to the new - I probably have some priorities that I need to re-order.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
1 Corinthians 6:19   Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 
 I don't know about you but I read those verses and I know there is always another closet to clean. Those darn dust bunnies. One thing I am thankful for is Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" If there are branches that need pruned, and closets or old trunks to clean out, behaviors or attitudes that need adjusted, I know it is Jesus who will be there to help me begin, carry out and complete the project. 
One last verse from Philippians 1:6 "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
So I choose not to water down the message just because it is inconvenient,  or does not make sense to my limited understanding. I have to keep on seeking and knocking and at some point the door to that understanding will open for me till then I believe that the bible is true and with His help endeavor to live it out by faith.

So how do we go about dying to ourself today?
1. Invite God to be part of your day
2. Let him know that you want to do His will.
3. Let him know where you feel weak and need help
4. How can my focus be on serving others rather than just me me me
5. You might not be able to eat the whole elephant today- but start with a chunk.
You might have other ideas and I would love for you to post them in comments.
Dear Lord, 
Help us to deny ourself and  pick up our cross and follow you. In our time it would be a march to the electric chair. Help us to realize that you died so we could live. Help us to lay down our life for the sake of others. Help us to give of ourself, our time, our talents and our treasures for your kingdom purposes. May your will be done in my life today.

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