Day 18: Giving Up Control
Thursday, February 24. 2022
There are many “benefits” to following Jesus. There’s the promise of eternal life, as well as his promise to be with us always. As we explored in a previous week, he invites us into a better way of living. There is the love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit growing inside us as we grow in him. He is our firm foundation; his words hold the key to life.
But we cannot forget there is still a cost to following Jesus. Jesus was willing to suffer on a cross for us and asked us to take up a cross for him. He gave up his life for ours and asked us to lay down our lives for him. His kingdom and his way are opposite from the world around us. The crux of the matter is that following Jesus means giving control of our lives to him. While his way is the better way, giving up control isn’t easy.
As we near the end of our time of prayer and fasting, let’s consider one more time the cost of following Jesus. You have been sacrificing time and comfort for him. Why? Probably, it’s because you have found he is worth it. Let’s think back to how he’s changed us and drawn near to us when we didn’t deserve it. We don’t just take time to pray and fast because it’s a healthy discipline—though it is. We do it because Jesus is worthy of all our devotion, now and forever. Prayer and fasting remind us to put him first, where he belongs.
“Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. ‘The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,’ he said. ‘He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.’
Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?’”
Verses 24-25 recount one of the most well-known teachings of Jesus. It demonstrates the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom, that what matters most to the rest of the world is not what matters to God. Instead of pursuing our own gain, we seek Jesus and follow His example of sacrifice. That can mean laying down our own goals and plans. Or it can mean refusing to live a lifestyle that puts accomplishments and the accumulation of money and possessions first. What might he be calling you to lay down so that you can fully follow him with all parts of your life, from the inside out?
In addition, Jesus lived with hardly any earthly attachments. He did not seek to “gain the world.” While that isn’t feasible for most of us, what truths can we learn from and implement into our lives? Let’s consider how we are hanging on to life our way instead of giving it up for Jesus’ sake.
Pray about ways you can intentionally simplify your life. What are some possessions and amenities you can live without? What about any pursuits in your life that may be unnecessary? In your prayer time, ask God to help you remain content in your heart and to be fully satisfied in Christ alone.
Prayer: “Jesus, I lay down my life for you, as you laid down your life for me. I pick up my cross to follow you because you hung on a cross for me. Therefore, I give you all of me. Whatever it costs to follow you and live life as you did, it is worth it. In you alone is real life. Help me avoid seeking to gain the world. Empower me to live like Jesus, rather than living like those around me. I give you this season of prayer and fasting because you deserve my full devotion, and you have it. Amen.”
By Dave Mann
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