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

Some of the things a man may have to forsake in following Christ, he has not to forsake because of what they are in themselves. Neither nature, art, science, nor fit society, is of those things a man will lose in forsaking himself: they are God’s, and have no part in the world of evil, the false judgments, low wishes and unrealities that make up the conscious life of the self which has to be denied. But in forsaking himself to do what God requires of him, a man may find he has to leave some of God’s things, not to repudiate them, but because they draw his mind from the absolute necessities of the true life in himself or in others. Then he who knows God will find that knowledge opens the door of his understanding to all things else. He will become able to behold them from within, instead of having to search wearily into them from without. Then will the things he has had to leave be restored to him a hundredfold. So will it be in the forsaking of friends. It is not to cease to love them, “for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath nor seen?” It is to not allow their love to cast even a shadow between us and our Master; to be content to lose their approval, even their affection, where the Master says one thing and they another. It is to learn to love them in a far higher, deeper, tenderer, truer way than before—a way which keeps all that was genuine in the former way, and loses all that was false. We shall love their selves, and disregard our own.