Daily Reflections

Matthew 10:34–11:1

Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom was forthright and uncompromising. He foresaw that this message would be like a sword cutting away error and confusion, dividing those who would listen and believe from those who would cling to the comfort of their old ways.

Our fallen human nature opposes self-denial and sacrifice. We are sometimes willing to deny ourselves in order to obtain short-term objectives such as the advancement of our careers. Some people, however, make real and costly sacrifices: for example, for the welfare of their families or those in need. These can be real achievements. But Jesus came to show us a new way so profound that it challenges us to the core of our being: he wants us to follow him first in all things; he accepts no compromise, even when following him can put us at odds with those most dear to us or contradict our own plans for our lives.

It is an essential part of our faith that we acknowledge Jesus as the Lord of our lives. But we constantly find ourselves following the dictates of our own desires and fears, and running for cover into the fortress of self. If we insist on self-governing, we shall find that the walls of our fortress are sufficiently thick to keep out the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Our defences need to be breached and the self denied its power if we are to receive the new life that Jesus longs to give us. But when we try to tame the self with our own meagre strength we fail – had it been otherwise there would have been no need for Jesus’ death on the cross.

Denial of self and its ultimate death are sovereign works of God’s grace in our lives. That grace is made available as we become aware of our need and fundamental inability to change ourselves. As we turn in prayer to our Saviour, submitting our daily decisions to him, we shall be enabled to probe more deeply into the truth that to find our life we must first lose it. This means being aware how much we want to hang on to the life we have made for ourselves, and renounce it for the call of Jesus. In seeing our weakness we shall be given his strength (2 Cor. 12:10).

‘Lord, in your mercy, overcome the tyranny of my self-centredness and open my heart and mind to your will.’

Isaiah 1:10-17  •  Psalm 49(50):8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Matthew 10:34–11:1

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