Sometimes I look in the mirror and I see my mother. Unfortunately I don’t usually see the good side of mother, but rather the bad side – the side of her that we saw a lot of in the last years of her life. I see in the mirror her mouth frowning instead of smiling. It sometimes shocks me, because I don’t want to be like that. Immediately I realize I need an attitude adjustment. I need to “die to self” and get back in line with Jesus.
But what does “dying to self” really mean?
For us Christians, it means letting the Lord God reign and rule over our lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should let go of our dreams, goals and desires; but instead we should be like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42).
Have you ever found yourself admiring from afar a great worker who has done much for the Kingdom of God, but then one day you see them close-up and realize that the person you were admiring really wasn’t the person you now see? It could be a pastor, televangelist, or even a missionary. You realize the great worker of God is really a person more excited about the “self-serving” aspects of his/her ministry, than making sure God gets all the glory.
Sometimes this can shatter a tender young life that is trying to grow in Christ. When you look up to someone and then realize that they’re really no better than yourself, why should you be interested in following God? Why not just keep doing what you’ve been doing?
A lot of well-meaning people sometimes forget Who they’re supposed to be serving. They start receiving fame and fortune, and all of a sudden they focus more on themselves than God. That’s not the way a true servant of Christ should be (Galatians 1:10).
It gets hard sometimes, doesn’t it? Because who doesn’t want approval from our peers?
It is said that the great Christian evangelist George Mueller was once asked what the secret of his service was:
“There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied to show myself approved only to God.”
Talk about living out 2 Timothy 2:15 to the fullest! George Mueller’s goal was to be pleasing to God, not pleasing to George Mueller.
Sometimes “dying to self” can mean letting go of someone into God’s hands, trusting that your Heavenly Father has got His arms around them. Trusting that even though things aren’t making sense to you right now, God has your loved one in His grip, and has a plan for them that might be totally different than what you think.
I read of a mother who loved the Lord, but unfortunately had a son who didn’t feel the same way. This prodigal believed that his mother’s faithful continuous prayers for him would cover any sin that he may commit. So he continued to live his life the way he felt like living it.
But one thing he didn’t count on was his mother’s desire to “die to self” and trust God with her son. She warned her son one day that she was no longer asking God to protect him or save him from trouble; instead she was asking God to do whatever it took to get him to surrender to the Lord, dead or alive.
That’s obedience! That’s what our Lord wants from us – dying to self and trusting that God’s will is more important than anything else.
May we be faithful to His call.