I hear people say “I’m going to take up my cross” and I also hear people say “This is just my thorn in the flesh”. We talk in our house a LOT about a thorn now. Something Paul referenced for himself in 2 Corinthians 12:7
7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations.<sup class=”crossreference” value='(A)’> Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh,<sup class=”crossreference” value='(B)’> a messenger of Satan,<sup class=”crossreference” value='(C)’> to torment me.
First, we don’t consider ourselves near the caliber of Paul. So when we reference having a thorn, we are merely stating that we have an inconvenient and constant reminder of our neediness for the Lord. Second, I find it very difficult, now that my husband and I both have a constant reminder of our frailness and vulnerability, to compare any thorn we might have to the thorns that crushed Jesus’ as a crown upon his crucifixion. No thorn I could every encounter will every compare to the weight, symbolism, and pain of those thorns.
So, to take up my cross….
New International Version (NIV)
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
I use the Luke version, because it says daily. Deny themselves::my wants, wishes, desires, hopes, needs, what I think I deserve, my plans, what I think is best, ALLLLLL of it.
So there’s an order to this obedience.
I want to be a disciple.
Take up my cross. Every. Day.
We make things so hard. Do I want to be a disciple?
What’s a disciple?
2. any follower of Christ.
also to teach or share.
Yes? Okay…next….deny myself. What does that look like?
Through prayer and study of the Word (inerrant) seek out and learn who Christ is and pursue a life that looks like His. This is not an easy task, but a life-long journey of developing a lifestyle comparable to Him. We are sinners. We make mistakes. Along the journey, though, we love people, we repent, we resolve conflict, we point others towards Christ. We deny our selfish ambitions that are only driven to benefit ourselves, putting others first. We deny our need and want to be right. We forfeit the world’s mentality of “me first”. We learn to listen the Spirit because good things do come from the Lord and we don’t have starve ourselves of the best things in order to deny ourselves. That’s why we have the Spirit, we ask Him for discernment.
Walking with Him and talking with Him? Great….now take up my cross.
He died on the cross. Daily take up my cross. Daily recognize His sacrifice for my sins. Daily repent. Daily ask Him for direction. Daily submit to His will which is for me to share Christ and His love with others.
Now, follow Him. “Wherever He leads, I’ll go.” Great hymn, great Truth. If there’s something in your path that is good, trust the Spirit’s leading. Sometimes He really does give us choices and we get to choose and there is no wrong answer. Sometimes, He leads us towards one specific direction and we are to choose obedience.
We have to walk this path together. Taking up our cross daily always involves the counsel of the Spirit and others. A mentor, a friend, a pastor, someone who walks daily with Him too who can ask the hard questions and who can provide life experience alongside your journey is the topping on the cake of life when it comes to maneuvering this life as a believer.