It is virtually impossible to read the New Testament and not come away with the overwhelming sense that God wants to kill you. Oh, not the physical you (put down that knife), but the selfish part of you.
“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
“Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33).
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
The call to follow Christ is a call to death, to lay down our lives, die to our selfish nature, and deny ourselves. This is rarely preached from pulpits today. In fact, I dare say that we have corrupted the message of Christ and taught precisely the opposite. People have been told that “God wants you to be happy,” that “If you have enough faith you can get anything you want,” that “”You must simply claim the desires of your heart.” (Never mind if those desires are rooted in sinful selfishness.)
And while living a life of faith will result in you receiving good things from God, do not deceive yourself: God is not waiting in heaven for the first opportunity to give you everything your selfish little heart craves. Nothing could be farther from the truth of the Christian message. God wants to kill the selfish part of you—not bless it. And there is no more perfect institution designed to kill you…than marriage! You cannot stay selfish and stay married. Eventually, one or the other has to give. And make no mistake, all marriages that end do so for only one reason: one or both got selfish.
Here’s a radical concept: What if God has no interest in turning your marriage into something where you can get everything you want? What if God wants your marriage to be in a place where your immediate desires are frustrated by your spouse? What if, instead of hearing you ask, “Oh God, change my mate,” he would rather hear you say, “Oh God, help me to die to my selfishness?”
Do you know why the Bible teaches us to die to ourselves? Dead people are easy to get along with. They really are. You can ignore them all day and they never get upset. You can poke them with a stick and they never hit you back. They never complain if you fail to meet their emotional needs (mostly due to the fact that most of their needs are pretty low.) If you don’t clean the house in a perfect way (hiding stuff under the couch or stuffing what is on the counter into the contents of a single shelf,) they don’t care. You won’t hear a single criticism from them. Dead people are very easy to get along with.
Jesus gave us this parable:
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24).
Boy, if that doesn’t describe a lot of people. Stuck in the ground, refusing to die to self, upset that they are alone, cold, unable to move, can’t see anything and are breathing in dirt. Then they go in for counseling…
“What can I do pastor?!”
Here’s what you can do : DIE ALREADY!! Because if you learn to let go and let God, you will burst out of that dirt into the sunshine of his glorious grace!
Watch Mark Gungor this Friday on LIFE TODAY. Taken from Beattitudes of Marriage by Mark Gungor. Copyright ©2013 by Mark Gungor. Used by permission.