Monday, February 6, 2012

My Life Not Dear

Consider Paul's selfless service to the Ephesian church, as he described it in Acts 20:

I was with you the whole time...
with tears and trials...
I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable...
from house to house...
I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself...
It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Invest in people, teach, train, pray, plead, sacrifice, wear yourself out for the sake of the gospel. I know it. Yeah, yeah, invest in people not hobbies or treasures. Okay, sure, self-sacrifice. Die to self, life not dear, all that. Uh-huh. Got it. That's what I say, I've got it in my head.

The words I speak belie the words I think. The words I speak reveal my heart. "I need a break, a vacation, a little peace. I need time to myself, time to string five words into an uninterrupted sentence. I need a little consideration, thoughtfulness, attention. It's too much effort. I can't do it. I just want to be left alone." Do you think I sound anything like Paul when he says, "I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself?"

My first reaction after realizing how far short I fall is to manage my sin. Plan A: Die to self, to be accomplished by working my fingers to the bone and never offering a word of complaint. Plan B: give up chocolate. I want three easy steps to kill the flesh. Five simple tips to end selfishness. A ten point checklist to give my life for God.

But I am brought up short. There are no easy steps (of any number), no simple tips, no checklist, no how-to article. There is no sin management, only the mortification of sin. There is only the cross.  

I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself. The writer of Hebrews quietly begins chapter 3, "consider Jesus." Yes, consider Jesus. I Corinthians 6:20 reminds us of the cross when battling sin, "you have been bought with a price." Romans 6:5-6 say we have become united with Him in His death and our old self was crucified. Or Galatians 2, "I am crucified with Christ." Jesus calls me to the cross, again and again. Come and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body (Rom.8:13). Consider Jesus.
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”   - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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