As a disciple of Jesus Christ, you already know that sin has wreaked havoc in this world and on top of that you have to take up your cross!? Maybe you have already experienced some of the devastation in your own life or have witnessed it in the lives of others. You can always cling to this knowledge: GOD IS GOOD. Do you think that Jesus oversimplified life when He said, “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.“? Some “crosses” in life just seem too hard to carry, don’t they?
And yet Jesus didn’t qualify that statement at all. He didn’t explain it. He didn’t give any examples or tell a parable. Take up your cross, He said, but if you don’t know which burden to bear, you will get weighed down. So what is your cross?
Your Cross May Be Heavy, so Strengthen Your Spirit
Peter wrote, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” (1 Peter 1:4) Jesus carried a literal cross. You carry a spiritual one. Remember that your fight isn’t with flesh and blood. Your struggle is always, always, always spiritual. (Ephesians 6:12) You’ll need spiritual weapons to stay strong in your faith: The Word of God, the power of Praise and worship; and the prayer of faith.
To be a true disciple of Jesus, He said you must 1) Deny yourself 2) Take up your cross, and 3) Follow Him. These are three separate actions and each is an equally important part of the process of the faith journey. You’ll spend the rest of your life working out your salvation as a disciple of Christ, and Jesus knew that – that is why He took up His cross first. You can always look to Jesus’ life to see what you need to do because He always went first- to make a way!
People often collapse under the weight of their “cross” and they give up, stop growing or walk away from their faith entirely. Imagine if Jesus had done that! The world will still be lost in sin. Jesus wants you to be a person of victory, but in order to truly follow Him and be called His disciple, you must take up your cross and carry it while He leads the way.
You’ll spend the rest of your life working out your salvation as a disciple of Christ, and Jesus knew that – that is why He took His up first.~Alicia Purdy
When Jesus said to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him, He knew exactly what He was saying – and He said it anyway. What does it mean to take up your cross?
Here are 5 Ways Jesus Showed You How to Take Up Your Cross
- Move forward in your life while still carrying its weight. (Read Psalm 55:22)
- Keep walking forward into the presence of God in worship, even if you stumble to get there. (Read Psalm 37:24)
- Refuse to stay down even if that “cross” lands right on top of you. (Read Proverbs 24:16)
- Get back up, even if you shake, cry, groan and feel weak. God is your strength and He loves you. (Read 2 Cor. 12:10)
- Take up your cross and carry it until you haul it to Calvary and crucify that thing once and for all. (Read Philippians 3:13-14)
The cross that Jesus carried represented weights and burdens and pains that are the result of sin, death, punishment, evil actions and spiritual darkness. What you bear is no different.
Your cross may be the burdens of your own bad choices, or the pain of the choices heaped upon you by another person. You may bear the despair, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, addictions, jealousy, temptations and trials that come with a life lived in a fallen world. You may bear the cross of a struggle of the flesh contending with the spirit – fighting against pride or lust, fighting to love, fighting to control yourself, fighting to be patient, fighting to find peace, fighting for joy. You may bear the cross of spiritual ignorance and a disconnectedness from the Spirit of God. This is why you must deny yourself- who you once were, who someone else said you are, and find your identification through Christ.
“Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24)
Thought for Today: Take Up Your Cross for Christ, Not Anyone Else
Everyone has a “cross” to bear. We all fight the flesh and fight we must until we reach heaven! Remember Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) Jesus’ real burden wasn’t the weight of the cross. His burden was for people. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
Seek the heart of Jesus for His burden. You’ll learn from His Word. You’ll lean on His strength in prayer. You’ll live in His powerful presence through your praise and worship. Your faithful Father will show you the areas in your life where you are unnecessarily burdened with the weight of a cross He wants you to carry to Him. He will show you where in your life you can bear something much lighter – His burden for the lost to be saved.
There is More that Jesus Christ Wants to Lead You Into! Go deeper into His Word: “Faith Moves Mountains, but Can it Move You?”