Christian, Take Up Your Cross

Following Jesus is a daily decision to pursue Him in the direction of the cross. Jesus tells the crowds this much in Mark 8 beginning in verse 34 when he says:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34–38)

The Christian life is a daily pursuit in the direction of the cross. In other words, it is a daily dying to self and living for Christ, pursuing Him with all we have.

In order to run after Jesus in this way, we must see Jesus as more valuable than anything the world has to offer. Jesus makes that clear when He asks: “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” The world has a lot to offer — riches, fame, acceptance, comfort, pleasure, etc. The world can offer these things, but they don’t last. They are here today and gone tomorrow.

Take your house for instance. Many want and chase after a home that is full of the comforts of the day. You sacrifice for it. You spend time working on it. You might even become consumed by it. While it is not wrong to have a nice home and nice things, if God so chooses to bless you in that way, there is not a command against it. But we must not make our home our idol. Something we believe will give us more satisfaction and joy than the Lord. Something we believe will provide us with meaning and hope. Something we put before and in place of the Lord. A home won’t, it can’t, provide us with what the Lord can and does. A home will let us down, whereas the Lord will not.

It is terrifying to imagine but fires happen all the time. In many instances, everything in the home is ruined. All that you placed your hope in gone in a matter of a couple of hours. Taken by the flames. In that moment, if your hope is in your home, your life is over. But if it is in the Lord, it might be sad, but your life is not ruined, your hope is not dashed, your world has not gone up in flames.

The things of this world are here today and gone tomorrow. We must not put our hope in them. Instead, we must exclusively put our hope in Jesus.

How can we get to a place where we see Jesus as more valuable than anything world can offer?

We must realize the world will let us down. That it can’t save our soul. It can’t restore our relationship with the Father. Once we see the world for what it is, we can enjoy it, but not live for it.

Have you taken up your cross today? Are you pursuing Christ with all you have? Are you allowing God to direct and control your life?

Does Your Awe and Need of the Cross Grow or Diminish Over Time?

In 1 Timothy 1:12-16, Paul recounts his testimony to Timothy in order to differentiate himself from the false teachers, and give Timothy a reason why he can be trusted over and against them. After recounting his testimony, Paul breaks out into spontaneous worship of God. In verse 17 we read,

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Ti 1:17)

At the thought of God’s grace and his salvation, Paul can’t help but worship God, praising and magnifying Him for who He is.

Likewise, when we think about how God’s grace and mercy worked in our life to provide us with salvation, we should be driven to worship God as well. Our awe and worship of Him should only grow as we grow in Christ.

For some, however, that is not the case. Their awe and need diminishes over time instead of grows. So we don’t make this mistake, it’s important we explore these two mindsets. Let’s start with the negative before moving to the positive.

Awe and Need Diminishes Over Time


As you can see in the diagram above, the cross starts out big, but then it gets smaller over time. This is how some people see their Christian walk. They see a need for Jesus at the beginning, but as time goes on, they don’t believe they need Him or His grace as much. As a result, they start to believe that they can handle most things on their own, and they might even get to a point where they think they are good enough to secure their own salvation.

The above, however, is far from the biblical idea of salvation and our need for God’s grace. We always need Jesus, and He is the One who always sustains our salvation.

Even though that is true, some still go down this path. You know they have gone down that path because this type of thinking produces people whose awe of God and His grace diminishes instead of grows over time, which results in someone who is proud, arrogant, and self-righteous. Someone who isn’t willing to admit they are a sinner or even talk about their sin. As well as it produces someone who thinks they don’t need the church, God’s Word, or prayer.

All this ends with someone who doesn’t worship God as they should. Instead of giving God the glory, they give themselves the glory, patting themselves on the back for what they have accomplished instead of for what God has accomplished through them.

Awe and Need Grows Over Time

While the above represents those whose awe and need diminishes over time, this next diagram represents those for whom awe and need grows over time.


As you can see, for this person the cross grows bigger and bigger as they grow in Christ. The crosses growth is a result of this person gaining a clearer picture of who they are — an unwise sinner who desperately needs God’s grace and wisdom. Coming to that recognition, they lean on God more and more instead of less and less.

This type of thinking produces people who are humble, who have a sense of unworthiness, who live in awe of God and are driven to worship Him. As well as it produces people whose prayer life is robust, and those who see a need for the church and God’s Word in their lives.

True Christians Grow In Awe and Need

If we are true Christians, the second diagram will represent us. The cross won’t grow smaller in our lives, instead it will grow bigger.

As the cross grows, we won’t hesitate to say with Paul, “I am the chief of sinners.” Neither will we hesitate to break out in worship when we think of our salvation, and the grace that God continues to pour out in our lives. We won’t hesitate to humble ourselves and praise God because we know our salvation and continued acceptance isn’t based on our work, but God’s work. He is the One who saved us, He is the One who continues to sanctify us, and He is the one who will glorify us.

When we recognize what God has done and continues to do, and when we are willing to admit that we are the chief of sinners, and praise God for His salvation, we know that the gospel has changed us. We know we are God’s children because only someone who has been changed by the gospel will recognize and admit their need for a Savior, and will humbly praise God for their salvation, leaning more and more on Him as time goes by.

Question for Reflection

  1. Which diagram represents you?



Post developed from my sermon How do we become someone who is used by God for His service?

Ideas are mine, but the diagrams were originally seen in this sermon