Central to living life as a fully devoted follower of Jesus is the act of dying to self. It is only when we lose ourselves we are able to then find Jesus (Luke 9:23-24). Paul said in dying to himself he would gain everything (Philippians 1:21). A true follower of Jesus surrenders everything to Him. Whatever we knew before Jesus, we now cast aside in favor of living a life that looks just like His.
Few can do this all at once, though I wish it were so easy. In reality, we must all die constantly, in every hour. No matter how well or poorly things may be going, we must make a conscious effort in each moment to die to ourselves and live for Jesus. It gets easier, I promise, but it is a choice we will have to make from this moment until our last breath. I can think of no higher aspiration for a life.
When we are thinking of ourselves, we are not thinking of Jesus. When we act selfishly, we are saying our own mission is greater than that of Christ and His Kingdom. We have not died to our own lusts and desires as long as we are seeking anything or anyone other than God. Dying to self requires total transparency. It means having nothing in our lives that does not honor Jesus. When we have died to self, our every hope and aspiration is centered on what we can do for Jesus. None of the temporal pleasures or joys of this world can compare.
Dying to self requires we trust God explicitly. What many of us tend to do is devote our lives to Him but then keep some sort of a back-up plan, just in case. There is no “Plan B” in discipleship. There is only Jesus. He is either worth everything to you or nothing at all. Jesus said those who weren’t for Him were against Him (Matthew 12:30). There is no ambiguity in His words. We’re either all in or left out. He leaves that decision to you and me.
While we often begin with good intentions, temptations cause us to fall back to our own devices. We seize old habits and attempt to find comfort there, but comfort in this world is but an illusion. Earthly joy, peace, security, or comfort are like a dream. They seem real in the moment, but sooner or later you wake to find it wasn’t real. This is why we must constantly be dying to self; it is the only way to experience the reality of Jesus and find true joy, peace, security, and comfort – the kind that never fades and will keep us for eternity.
Jesus died for us and now we must die for Him. Our death is not physical, but rather one of devotion. Give everything to Him and ask for nothing in return. Stand naked in Him, stripped of every selfish dream and desire. Trust fully in His sufficiency. Dying to self means learning to really live for the first time. All we seek is found in Jesus. We have nothing real to lose and reality to gain. A life spent dying to self is a life lived fully for Jesus. It’s the only life worth living.