Lurking in the shadows of every cross, there is a crown; in the shadows of every dark cloud, there is a silver lining; and in the shadows of every tribulation, there is triumph! In the 10th chapter of Matthew, verses 37-38, Jesus made a declaration, He made a proclamation, He made an announcement.
“He that loves father or mother more than me - IS NOT WORTHY OF ME! He that loves son or daughter more than me - IS NOT WORTHY OF ME! And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me - IS NOT WORTHY OF ME!”
The “CROSS” is symbolic of your willingness to die! Your willingness to suffer! Your willingness to mortify the deeds of your sin nature! The “CROSS” is symbolic of your willingness to humble yourself! Your willingness to love when confronted with hatred! Your willingness to turn the other cheek!
The “CROSS” is symbolic of your willingness to go that extra mile! Your willingness to hold your peace, and let the Lord fight your battles! Your willingness to say, “Nevertheless Lord, not my will, but your will be done!” The “CROSS” is symbolic of your willingness to bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those that despitefully use you!
SO, AM I DEAD YET?
Our unregenerate self (self in its Pre-Christian state, dominated by sin) has been rendered powerless in that we are no longer enslaved to it. Although it is the natural tendency and inclination of man to desire the forbidden thing; to cater to and gravitate toward his sin nature, we, as Christians (followers, disciples, and ambassadors of Christ) are resurrected to a new quality of moral life - here and now. We are to mature as Christians, and become in experience what we already are positionally - Dead to Sin and Alive to God! “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:7-8a).”
When lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is finished, results in death - separation from God!
Cease to make “self” the object of your life and actions. The “CROSS” was an instrument of death, and symbolizes the necessity of total commitment! Following Jesus requires self-denial “daily,” complete dedication “daily,” and willing obedience “daily.” Walking, living by the power of the Holy Spirit is the key to conquering sinful desires and habitual conduct. (Galatians 5:16-26). We are “enabled” by the Holy Spirit to walk in the fullness of life through Christ - loving Him and keeping His commandments!
The Christian life is not only believing, but also suffering. Christian suffering, as well as faith, is to be embraced and considered a blessing! (Philippians 1:29). Suffering for Christ, the patient endurance of injustice will be followed by glory and will result in a reward. (II Timothy 2:11-12).
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).” “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).” “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (II Corinthians 4:16-17).”
Our sufferings, trials, and tribulations are not meaningless. God’s purpose is to produce character in His children. Christian character producing the fruit of holiness; producing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are we in God’s hand!
Correlating Scriptures: Luke 14:26-35; Luke 9:23-24; Matthew 10:37-39; Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; I Peter 2:21-25; I Peter 4:12-19; Romans 5:3-5; II Timothy 4:8; James 1:12-15; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:11