Jesus calls his disciples to self-denial. “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’”(Luke 9:23).
The issue is that we prefer self-indulgence to self-denial. Listen to advertising and you will be told how you deserve to be pampered, treated, and catered to. Almost no one is offering what is rigorous, uncomfortable, and painful.
The path of self-indulgence doesn’t lead to anywhere we want to go—not to discipline, skill, deep relationship, character, or insight. Everything good we want to pursue requires self-denial. So (naturally) Jesus puts it first. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself.”
Among other things, self-denial means:
But the path of self-denial is not merely about saying no—it is about cutting off other avenues because we have a bigger, more important yes. “Let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” We are happy to ignore other paths because we are following Jesus.
What are you denying yourself—and what are you pursuing?