Self-Denial AppliedBro. David Chancellor
3/29/2009 6:00 PM
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself: but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
"We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves." This isn’t something done to please man, but to deny ourselves for the good of others, especially spiritually. We affect others by our choices/decisions. We’re not out to get what we want at any cost. Consider others in your choices. Base your choices on what will work to God’s will and purpose.
1 Corinthians 8:13
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
If there are things that will harm others, we need to deny ourselves and let it go. We need to consider people’s conscience. This doesn’t mean take up and preach a doctrine you don’t believe to be true. It means having compassion for the sake of others for the time being. Don’t build a doctrine based on someone’s self-denial. Self-denial is consideration and thoughtfulness . The goal of self-denial is to be a blessing to someone else.
1 Corinthians 4:10-13
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
Self-denial will be willing to be viewed as a fool rather than as wise. If people think we’re fools for following Christ, so be it. Be true and faithful to God and let people think what they will. Be willing to follow Christ, even if people despise you. Don’t join in and despise others. Be ready for whatever God would have you to do. Lean on God when you’re tired. Be faithful. He’ll provide what’s needed. Some may still revile and persecute, but find grace in God to bear it. God can work it all for good, if we’ll deny ourselves and bear it. It requires self-denial to be able to bear being mistreated and still treat people right. We’ll run into people that aren’t the nicest people and we might suffer because we reach out to those. People of all kinds need God. Are you willing to speak to them about God, even if society in general would let them go? The world may not value you, but stay faithful to God.
1 Peter 2:18-20
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God, endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
You could apply this to a work environment. It’s easy to work for the "good" boss. It’s more challenging to work for a hard boss, but still behave like a Christian. Take things well whether it’s your fault or not. Be a good employee regardless. Be a good witness for God. If you’ll stay faithful, God can work through you. Don’t let difficult things turn you away from God.
But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
Paul had been advancing in Jewish society, and if he’d stayed with his position, he’d have continued to climb the social ladder. He let it go because it wasn’t what would ultimately matter. Worldly gain isn’t lasting. Paul exchanged it all so that he could gain Christ.
Self-denial looks at what the world can offer and sees how it stacks up against God. Are we willing to put those things aside to follow God? Be willing to deny yourself anything that God asks you to set aside for him, and follow God. Don’t let God become second. Keep him first.