I often wonder if I’m dying and don’t know it. Doubtlessly there are known situations and substances that will kill me physically. If I choose to use tobacco products regularly and heavily, my chances of contracting cancer increase dramatically. Cancer often kills. Overuse of alcohol increases the chance I’ll develop an addiction and possibly become an alcoholic. This puts me at a higher risk of developing liver damage. Using illegal drugs—or even misusing prescription drugs, can produce lethal effects as well. And of course, unhealthy relationships and misdiagnosed views of myself can devastate me emotionally. In some instances, I can diagnose what’s killing me, but at other times it may be occurring without my direct knowledge.
Jesus also referred to an instrument of death, but in a healthy way. Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. (Mark 8:34 NLT)
In Jesus’ day, the cross was a cruel and inhuman method of death used by the Roman authorities. Victims were forced to carry their crosses to their final place of execution. In typical fashion, Jesus carried his.
What kills me may be different from what’s killing someone else. Struggles vary. My major instrument of destruction would be failure to accept what Christ has done in my behalf. To live life ignoring God and shunning his forgiveness.
Things that can kill me don’t stop with the spiritual. My spiritual, emotional, and physical areas are all bound together like three course twine. Ignoring my spiritual need affects my emotional state. And when my emotions are in a state of unrest, physical problems often erupt.
But when I take up the cross of self-denial by following Christ, what begins to die are my selfish ambitions. Obedience to him becomes my sole desire. And though I die…I live. Will you die for the one who did for you?
Prayer: Merciful God who sent Your Son to be killed in our place, give us courage to die for You daily so we might live in the fullest sense of the word.
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