In a culture that esteems self-promotion…Self-denial is a lost virtue! Yet there probably is no more important virtue for the Christian to practice.
Self-denial is the mark of a Christian…and it is the fundamental virtue one must practice in order to live the Christian life. Jesus said it this way: “If anyone wishes to come after me, then let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Lk. 9:23)
John the Baptist sets a remarkable example of self-denial when his disciples notice that the crowds that once followed John—are now following Jesus. John said that his joy was made full in pointing others to Christ, “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him…and so my joy has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:28-30)
John MacArthur states that, “John summarized his view of himself in relation to Jesus in perhaps the most humble statement uttered by anyone in Scripture.” John rejoices in others leaving his delegation—to follow the Messiah! John’s statement is truly amazing! It is most uncommon in our world…and even in the “Christian world!” It is our calling as well—He must increase—but we must decrease.
Like John the Baptist, we are called to live a life of self-denial and surrender to God and to His purpose for our lives. The irony is that those who seek to find their lives lose them—but those who seek to lose their lives for Christ’s sake—truly find life indeed! (Lk. 9:24)