Today’s Scripture: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:24-26

If you scan the bookshelves in the self-help section of today’s bookstores, you’ll find hundreds of titles on living. Although there are a variety of differing approaches, the best advice can be summed up in this phrase, “You have to look out for yourself.”

But Jesus had a radically different view. He said that before you can really live, you have to die. He told the disciples, who were hoping for a plum spot in a new administration and who jockeyed for position in Jesus’ inner circle, that lowliness and humility were the keys to greatness.

This was the same theme echoed by the Apostle Paul. He said that he didn’t start living until he first experienced death – death to self. Now you’re not going to hear that repeated in too many bestsellers or on the lecture circuit, but that’s the path to true fulfillment in life. You see, before you can really experience the fullness of God’s blessings for you, you must empty yourself of all your selfish ambition and pride.

It is our flesh that desires to seek our own gratification and to control our own destiny. But we know that the end is destruction. That’s why every day we must choose to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s rule.

While the world may say that gratifying our flesh is the way to fulfillment, the real answer is to die – to ourselves. This is really living!

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder