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  • Tom Strode

Self-denial is a Christian virtue


Self-denial is not a cultural virtue in our time. It is a Christian virtue at all times.

Oh, we in America and much of the world admire self-denial when books and movies depict it in the lives of fictional characters who heroically give of themselves to protect or rescue others. And we marvel at it when we read news accounts of military service members, first responders or ordinary citizens who take risks to save others.

But we are overwhelmed in our culture with messages that conflict with self-denial. We are told, "You deserve to be happy, and you deserve everything that is required for you to be happy." We are told, "Be your true self" -- no matter what devastating impact it might have on others.

Meanwhile, God's Word tells us self-denial is the only way to true joy and genuine authenticity.

Without self-denial, there is no lasting delight or faithful discipleship.

Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 9:23).

Self-denial is not all there is to being a disciple of Jesus, but it is an indispensable part. If we would follow Him, we must deny ourselves. If we would say "yes" to Him, we must say "no" to ourselves. If we would be identified with Him and His cross, we must flee any sinful self-identity. If we would enthrone Him, we must dethrone ourselves. If we would live the Christ-guided life, we must reject the self-guided life.

We must not lose sight of the fact the Christian virtue of self-denial does not result in a bleak existence, because Jesus is at the other end of self-denial. And in His presence "is fullness of joy; at [His} right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11b).

-- Photo by KTMD Photography on Unsplash

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