When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Self-abnegation is the law of the kingdom of God. It is the meek who inherit the earth, the poor in spirit who are infinitely wealthy. In the service of Christ we gain by losing, live by dying, and receive by giving. Does this seem utterly opposed to what the world regards as sound wisdom? It is because the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 1:20), and the principles of action which natural men approve are absolutely opposed to those of Heaven.
The Bible abounds with instances of men who triumphed by seeming defeat. Consider Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Paul, and pre-eminently our blessed Lord Himself.
On the other hand, how many there are whose sad failures illustrate the truth that “those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37). The names of Cain, Pharaoh, Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, and Pilate are only a few that might be cited.
It is the part of those who profess to be followers of Christ to share His rejection. Why should they expect recognition from a world that gave their Savior a cross of shame? To faith there is no greater luxury than identification with Him in suffering and sorrow, that the life given up may prove to be a life preserved to eternal glory.
The cross on which our Lord expired
Has won the crown for us!
In thankful fellowship with Him
We bear our daily cross.
Set free in grace—He vanquished him
Who held us in his chains—
But more than this, He shares with us
The fruit of all His pains.
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 188.