I have been reading Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. The book has placed an emphasis on Luke 9:23, and I have felt a particular pull to these words during the last few weeks.
Our society and culture teaches us to be selfish and put ourselves above over everyone else. Also, as humans, we are hard wired to be obsessed with the idea of me me me me me instead of you you you you you (You = Jesus). I was introduced to the idea of “treat yo self” sometime during the last couple of years. It can mean anything from letting yourself have that bowl of icecream, to buying that new trendy piece of clothing, to going to bed early just because you can. I’ve thrown the phrase around myself, not thinking about who I am truly called to put first in my life and whose presence fills my soul. Luke 9:23 is a call to “deny yourself, pick up your cross daily, and follow me.” I remember reading it in the past and just kind of skipping over the “deny yourself” bit because I didn’t really understand what that was supposed to mean. The imprtance of that phrase hit me as I read Kyle Idleman’s words expressing the necessity of being full of Christ as opposed to being full of ourselves. My mind wandered to Revelation 3:16, reminding us that we are either hot, cold, or lukewarm; lukewarm being the least of these. We cannot be full of ourselves and full of the Holy Spirit. Christ doesn’t want us to follow him only part of the time. He wants us to be full of Jesus and to seek Him wholeheartedly. We must be emptied of our own personal wants, thoughts, and motivations so that they may be replaced with those of the Lord. Deny yourself. Psalm 37:4 tells us to “take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desires.” I used to think this meant that if I lived my life full of prayer and reading the Bible, God would give me what I wanted. However, if we take delight in the Lord and the plans He has for us, our own desires become masked and God’s desires become our own.
It is only by denying our humanity that we can be filled with the Spirit, and it is only by being full of the Spirit that we can seek Jesus with all that we have. I’m not saying that you can’t treat yourself to ice cream, but I encourage you to be mindful of who is priority in your life. Yourself or Jesus?