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

There is no joy belonging to human nature, as God made it, that shall not be enhanced a hundredfold to the man who gives up himself—though, in so doing, he may seem to be yielding the very essence of life. To yield self is to give up grasping at things as if they came from nowhere, because no one appears presenting them, and to receive them direct from their source. The careless soul receives the Father’s gifts as if they dropped into his hand. He thus grants himself a slave, dependent on chance and his own blundering endeavor. For the good that comes to him, he gives no thanks; at the disappointments that befall him he grumbles—there must be someone to blame! He does not think what Power would not be worse than squandered to sustain him after his own fashion in his paltry, low-aimed existence! The hour is coming when all that art, science, nature, and animal nature can afford us, in ennobling subjugation to the higher even as man is subject to the Father, shall be the possession of the sons and daughters of God, to their endless delight. God is able to give these things to those to whom he is all in all; to others he cannot give them, for they are unable to receive them who are outside the truth of them. We are not to love God for the sake of what he can give us, for it is impossible to love him save because he is our God, and altogether good and beautiful; but neither may we forget that, in the end, God will answer his creature in the joy of his heart. The good Father made his children to be joyful; only, ere they can enter into his joy, they must be like himself, ready to sacrifice joy to truth. 


by George MacDonald

The text below is an excerpt from George MacDonald's sermon, The Only Freedom, taken from George MacDonald in the Pulpit, edited by  and published by Johannesen Printing and Publishing. 

[The only] liberty lies in obedience. Can you lay hold of it? Do you think that Jesus Christ...would have felt free one moment if He had not been absolutely devoted to the will of His Father in heaven? Suppose it had been possible, which thank the Lord Christ and His Father, it was not, else we were now in the darkness of helplessness--suppose it had been possible that Jesus Christ should have been less devoted to His Father, for He might have said...that He was the slave of His Father. For, look you, He cares for nothing but His Father's will. There is nothing else that He has anything to do with. The very reason for which He came into the world was "that the world may know that I am of the Father." "As the Father hath given me commandment," He says, "So I do;" and then He says, "Arise, let us go hence"--away to the death, because the Father willed it. Oh, if Jesus had been less the salve of His Father, do you think that He would have felt that He was a free man? Do you not think that that was what made the devil? He had a notion of being free. "Here I am. I will be the slave of no man--not even of the God that made me." Ad so all goes wrong, and he is the devil--no archangel any longer--and a mean devil, too, who tries to pull all down into the same abyss with himself, well knowing that he cannot even give them his pride to uphold them. If, friends, it should be slavery to obey the very source of our being, think what mean creatures we are that, having come from that source, to follow our life law is a slavery. 

Well, then: we are the born slaves. Ah, thank God, we are the born slaves of Christ. But then He is liberty Himself, and all His desire is that we should be such noble, true, right creatures that we never can possibly do or think a thing that shall bind even a thread round our spirits and make us feel as if we were tied anywhere. He wants us to be free--not as the winds--not to be free as the man who owns no law, but to be free by being law, by being right, by being truth..."