Like most people, I prefer things to be predictable, orderly, well thought out in advance and well communicated. I am the same way when it comes to spiritual challenges. I know that God is ultimately in control, but I would love it if He would allow me to give some more input about where, when and how I ought to be dying to self.
Dying to self is the key to living a victorious Christian life. In John 12, Jesus says “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
We are fruitful (able to share the characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit like love, joy, peace and so on) when we successfully learn how to put others first-that’s when we die to self. We are fruitful (able to effectively share the gospel with others) when we lean how to put others first-that’s when we die to self.
I get the concept. I just want to be able to choose the circumstances in which my flesh diminishes. There are certain people that I would prefer God didn’t use in that pursuit. Oswald Chambers once captured my thought…
“If God would only use His fingers and make us broken bread and poured-out-wine in a special way. But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those factors the crushers, we object.”
But he wisely went on to conclude, “We must never try to choose the scene of our own martyrdom.”
A mature believer in Jesus Christ understands the principles behind self-control, self-abasement, and self-denial. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
The tough part is when the process involves people we don’t respect or circumstances that are just plain not fair. We then begin to chafe at the manner in which our dying to self takes place.
At the start of this New Year, it’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves how much our heavenly Father loves us. His love is so pervasive that He will choose just the right setting so our growth in Christ can be accelerated. It will be His choice of where, when and how we will experience the bumps, bruises and challenges of life.
He is doing the chiseling…He gets to choose the scene(s) of our martyrdom!