One of the most difficult things for me to do was to take up my cross daily; I was always looking for my own personal Simon of Cyrene. Those who know me easily recognize that I don’t care for manual labor. As a young boy I had a summer job picking up trash in the neighborhood. It was hot and tiring work and it was that summer that I decided I would do anything other than manual labor. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to work in the IT profession.
When I think about these words of Christ, I realize that this involves a kind of death march of one’s self; understanding the march ends in crucifying my earthly ambitions. Hmmmmm…you can see how difficult it was for me to get to this place when I couldn’t even deny myself. The idea of someone else carrying my cross seemed perfectly acceptable, especially if they were willing to. I remember one of my younger brothers bought a car and in my mind I knew I now had wheels to go where I wanted. I remember times I would just grab his keys and leave. It never occurred to me that I needed to correct my behavior towards my brother.
My real problem here is that I was irresponsible and accepting Christ didn’t change that attitude initially; because I didn’t want to carry my cross. I look at carrying my cross daily as practicing personal responsibility. I once commented on another blog that discussed the need to trust God. In my comment I acknowledged the need to trust God but I found myself asking, Does God trust me? When God needs someone to demonstrate the power of His forgiveness, His immeasurable grace and love, His unsurpassing goodness, His righteousness and truth, and His holiness, will He call on me? Am I being responsible as a servant of God? Am I being accountable to God?
Carrying my cross daily is that aspect of me putting to death my selfish desires to gratify my own wants and replacing them with a genuine desire to offer myself up as a living sacrifice. The bible says,
“…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”1
Presenting myself as a living sacrifice becomes a form of worship offered to God. The understanding finally dawned on me that doing so is reasonable because worship requires sacrifice. This parallels what occurred in the Old Testament references to worship.
“…’When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or flock…And he shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.'”2
The sacrificial offerings of animals were consumed by fire. The fire that consumes me is the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the offering was sacrificed by the priest but it was presented to the priest by the offerer for their sins. In doing this, the offerer gave up any claims, rights of ownership or vested interest in the offering (animal); it belonged to God. This was symbolized by placing their hand on the head of the animal to indicate a transfer of:
- Ownership rights
Each day as I choose once again to take up my cross, I recognize it is a conscious decision on my part to abstain from sin and be an instrument offered to God for whatever He purposes. I have in truth, given ownership rights, claims and all vested interests of my life to God; I am no longer my own.
This is for me, taking up my cross daily.
- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
- The Layman's Parallel New Testament, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
- Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6