Dying to Live
Some effective life strategies seem contrary to common sense. One might think throwing a shot put, discus or javelin as far as possible takes all-out muscular effort. The truth—the best throwers are very relaxed. Several times I helped my Uncle Bill plant celery. We occupied the two seats on his celery planter. It was slowly moving through the field. We both had a handful of celery plants in our left hands. We placed them one at a time in designated slots connected to a rotating wheel. Uncle Bill did it way better than I did. I was hurrying to do the job. Uncle Bill, a seasoned veteran, told me that to go faster, I had to relax more. He was right.
James Calvert and other missionaries dedicated themselves to share the gospel in the Fiji Islands where cannibals lived. When they arrived, the ship’s captain tried to discourage them. He predicted that they’d lose their lives. Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”1 They had died to self-centered living. They were living for Jesus who died for them and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:15). That’s precisely what Jesus told them and us to do.
That one must die to live is contrary to common sense. The last thing we want to do is die. Dying to selfish living is the first thing we need to do to experience a purposeful life. Every Christian who bears much fruit has died to self-centered living. “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24, NIV).
Joy doesn’t come from living it up. It blossoms when we die to self-centered living for the benefit of God and others. The most satisfying moments of my life are when I make a difference in others’ lives for Jesus. The commitment to die to self-centered living and live for God’s purposes must be renewed continually. Paul wrote that he died daily (1 Corinthians 15:31).
Yesterday’s sacrifices are no substitute for today’s. Love which sacrifices for others produces joy. That joy can’t be canned, frozen or dried. It must be harvested fresh every day. It’s a predictable by-product of yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). He produces the fruit of joy. But you have to die to get it! #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freechristianleadershipresources
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