Self Denial

And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

— St. Luke 9:23-24

It is not to thwart or tease the poor self that Jesus tells the would-be disciple to deny himself; he tells us we must leave it altogether—yield it, refuse it, lose it: thus only shall we save it, thus only have a share in our own being. The self is given to us that we may sacrifice it; it is ours that we like Christ may have something to offer—not that we should torment it, but that we should abandon it utterly. The self is to be no longer the ruler of our action. We are no more to think, “What would I like to do?” but “What would the Living one have me do?” The Self is God’s making—only it must be the “slave of Christ,” that the Son may make it also the free son of the same Father; it must receive all from him; it must follow him, not its own desires. Christ must be its law. The time will come when it shall be so possessed by the indwelling God that there will be no longer any enforced denial of it needful; it has been finally denied and refused, learned to receive with thankfulness, to demand nothing. God’s eternal denial of himself, revealed in him who for our sakes in the flesh took up his cross daily, will have been developed in the man; his eternal rejoicing will be in God—and in his fellows, before whom he will cast his glad self to be a carpet for their walk, a footstool for their rest, a stair for their climbing.