“If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they one from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God? Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely? But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:1-10
First, I submit fully to Christ as a believer in Him. I relinquish control over my life and yield control over everything in my life to Jesus. Then, because I want to obey God and please Him (because I love Him more than anything or anyone), I submit to my husband’s God-given leadership (Ephesians 5:22-33, Titus 2:3-5, Colossians 3:18).
When Jesus is LORD of my life, getting my way is no longer my primary goal. Bringing honor and glory to Him is my primary goal now – even in my marriage.
DYING TO SELF, CARRYING OUR CROSS DAILY
This is a concept that is central to being a true disciple of Christ, and it is a painful and unpopular one. “Dying to self “is much overlooked in our Western churches today because we prefer to hear about “health, wealth and happiness” – not the biblical concepts of suffering, sacrifice, obedience no matter what the cost and total submission to Christ as LORD of all in our lives.
As disciples of Jesus, we cling to Jesus alone. We hold everything else loosely. When there is something we want, we ask God for it in faith. We also ask God to help us examine our motives to be sure we are not asking with wrong motives. We learn to lay each issue at the feet of Jesus, being content with whichever outcome is the will of God regardless of our own will. We learn to seek His will far above our own.
This is what Jesus means by carrying our cross daily.
- We lay down our will.
- We lay down our desires.
- We remember that our sinful nature was crucified with Christ on the cross and that we learn to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus.
- We lay down all that we are, all of our plans, our dreams, our health, our money, our jobs, our husbands, our children, our future, our talents, our wisdom and everything that is ours and we place it on the altar before Christ. Meaning – we trust Him fully with all of the things that are most precious to us.
- We are willing to give up anything He asks us to at any time.
- We cling only to Jesus. We count Him as the only thing we MUST have. He is our Greatest Treasure. He is our LIFE. We truly desire Him far above anything else in this world,
This is hard. It is a very painful process. Submission to God’s will was difficult and painful for Jesus Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. How much more difficult and painful will it be for us as sinners to die to self? Yet, our submission to God and faith in Him is His measure of our love for Him. If we are willing to obey God and trust His heart – even if He asks us to be willing to surrender our greatest and dearest relationships and treasures on this earth – the end result is maturity in our faith and great joy and fruitfulness in Christ!
Each of us have different priorities and different things we hold very dear.
For the rich young ruler – the thing that was most important in his life was his money and his wealth. He was not willing to sell all he had and follow Christ. His money and belongings were more important to him than Jesus. Jesus doesn’t necessarily call each of us to sell all he has and give to the poor and follow Him. But –
He does call each of His followers to be willing to give up anything and everything for His sake at any time and to put nothing above Him in our hearts. Ever.
That is how we show our deepest devotion and love is for Him alone – that we believe He is worthy of any sacrifice He might ask us to make.
Check out the response of God’s faithful servant, Job, when he lost all of his 10 children and all of his wealth in one day:
Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. Job 1:20-22
God tests our faith by trials (James 1, Job and I Peter are about this). Many times He will ask us to be willing to give up whatever is most precious to us. These tests force us to purify our motives, refine our faith and to grow into maturity as we must wrestle with being willing to give up the things of this world that we love most to demonstrate that our love for God is greater than our love for anything or anyone else. The Lord certainly tested Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac on the altar to Him to prove that He loved God more than the promised child. And then, what an incredible thing – God did not actually require Abraham to go through with the test – but God Himself DID sacrifice His only Son to prove His outrageous love for us.
WHAT THINGS DO YOU HOLD MOST DEAR?
Each of us have different “hot button issues” and fears. What may be a great test of faith for one of us may not be difficult for another. But we each have certain things that we don’t want to sacrifice and surrender to God. There are all kinds of things that we may feel we “must have” to be happy in this life. When we are tested, God may call upon us to be willing to give up something of this world that we hold dear. Many times, the thing may be a “good thing.” It may even be a gift from God. But God wants to see us be willing to choose Him and to obey Him over having what we want in this world. If we are not willing to surrender something and we are unwilling to give it up in obedience to God, then, we are likely dealing with an idol, something that is more important to us than God.
THIS IS PART OF THE PROCESS OF REFINING OUR FAITH AND PURIFYING OUR HEARTS
He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
To give up something we hold as precious requires us to spend MUCH time wrestling in prayer, MUCH purposeful surrendering and submitting and yielding to God. It can be agony. Have I had to do this with certain issues? Yes. Will I have to do it again many times in my life? Definitely! But this process forces us to learn to lay down our will and seek only God’s will as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is HARD! It is PAINFUL!!!!!!!
There is no shortcut here as we learn to trust God completely, depend on His sovereignty and goodness and His unspeakable love for us.
We learn that God is truly going to do what is ultimately best for us and what will cause us to be more like Christ as we walk through the fiery trials. We learn that this is the path to maturing in our faith and learning to depend on the sufficiency of Christ. This is how we learn to be content in any circumstances no matter what the outcome of any situation.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
This is where we learn to experience the supernatural peace of God, as we give God the freedom to give and take whatever He knows is best in our lives. We learn to lean not on our own understanding but to wholly depend on God and His wisdom. We learn to live in constant submission to His Spirit and His Word. We long to delight Him and to know Him more. The things of this world grow “strangely dim” as we focus on Christ and eternity. We begin to store up treasures for ourselves in heaven because that is where our hearts are. We become willing to suffer for Jesus even if it costs us dearly and we learn to count suffering for Him as an honor and blessing. We learn to be willing to literally lose our own lives for Him if He calls us to do that. We cleave to Jesus and cling tightly to Him. And we are willing to let go of everything else, seeking only His will and all of His will. We ask Him to change our hearts to want what He wants and to hate what He hates. This is the process of being pruned, refined, tested, tried and sanctified as God conforms us to the image of Christ.
My full submission to God means that my life is not about me, it is about God’s greatest glory!
There are times when God will ask us to be willing to do things we REALLY do not want to do. Submission can be very painful – our submission to God and to our husbands. Sometimes a husband may ask his wife to do something that she completely disagrees with. I believe that she can and should share her heart, desires, thoughts, ideas, perspective and feelings respectfully – just like we share our hearts, needs and desires with God in prayer. But then, if he still believes it is the best course of action and he is not clearly asking her to sin (by God’s definition not hers), she can submit to his leadership joyfully, trusting God to work through her husband’s leadership to bring about His will in her life even when she doesn’t understand. She knows that she will understand in time and that God is able to use every circumstance to bring about His will and to do good in her life for His glory (Romans 8:28-29).
* If a husband is asking his wife to clearly sin, please check out Spiritual Authority.
I would love to hear from some of you who have submitted to God and your husband in a time when you did not agree, but you rested in the sovereignty of God and then later saw the wisdom in your husband’s decision and in God’s ability to lead you through your husband.
If there are specific issues that are particularly difficult for you to submit to God and/or your husband about, let’s talk about it together!
For wives whose husbands tend to be very dominant and strong, you will want to check out the comments on last week’s post. There are some beautiful gems of wisdom there from other wives who are learning to honor God and their husbands in such situations when their husbands are angry.
My Secret Idol – a wife wants her husband to be saved more than anything