Is there something bigger we want to reach for, or is self-interest our resting pulse?

Aaron Sorkin

We all want to live a life that is bigger than ourselves. But our self-consumption tries to oppose us every step of the way.

There is no such thing as a self-contained life. We affect the people around us. So our sin doesn’t just affect us. And our relationship with God doesn’t just affect us. 

As a church, we are only strong as our weakest member. Disciple Strong. One of the basics for Disciple Strong is to deny ourselves.

Self-interest makes us live small lives. And fear is at the root.

When you’re going through a tough time, it’s tempting to sit back and protect yourself. It takes courage to reach out! Surprisingly, our biggest challenges are what God usually ends up using to help the most people. Depending on God and reaching beyond ourselves is an amazing thing.

Learning To Say No To Ourselves

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)

  • Denying myself is not about willpower; it is about love.
  • To say no to myself, I must love someone or something more than I love myself.

What is the cross besides dying to yourself? Denying yourself means giving your life away. In fact, the only way to say No to yourself is to love someone or something more than you love yourself… For men, it’s the ultimate self-denial to be open and vulnerable with people, especially your spouse. The only way is to love your wife more – the attitude that, “I’m going to open myself up, even if that means feeling rejected or hurt.”

1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1-2 describe the character that older men should have. One of the predominant qualities is self-control. It’s a quality that comes from being close to God. We can’t say No to ourselves just by willpower – we need a certain kind of relationship with God to do that. Older men are supposed to be done with selfish ambition, to feel no need to be validated by people, to be content and relaxed with who God has made them – “My role is to make other people better.” Is that you? That’s the attitude of someone who says No to selfish ambition and No to insecurity.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2: 1-5

We are supposed to get compassion, love, and tenderness from our relationship with God so we can give those to other people. How can we say No to other people when God always says Yes to us? If we don’t believe that God will protect us from rejection and that God has a plan for us… then we will never say No to ourselves because we will always believe that we need to take care of ourselves.

Are you mad that your life hasn’t worked out the way you wanted? The funny thing is that if God gave you everything you wanted, do you really know what life would be like? If you got everything you wanted, you would probably ruin yourself and the people around you! God gives us the perfect lives and perfect families for us to build the perfect relationship with God.

 The Road of Character Or The Road of Comfort

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

Jesus isn’t condemning people in this verse. He is making an observation that many people won’t want to live like Him. Most people want to choose the easy way, not to deny their emotions. It feels so good to have a fit of rage! To stay angry! To let your emotions go wild! It’s hard to say No to ourselves and our emotions… Not many people choose the uncomfortable life. But that’s the way of Jesus—the way of character.

How can you tell you love comfort? Well, how often do you complain… About the size of your house? The commute? The traffic? Your spouse? Your job? Complaining shows how much we love our comfort!

Physical Comfort:

  • Sensual Indulgences
  • Not Being Happy

When you get older, it’s uncomfortable to stay in shape and keep working out! Or to watch your diet!

To overcome impurity, will power alone won’t work – you have to love something more: God, your spouse, your girlfriend.

Emotional Comfort:

  • Superficiality
  • Religiosity and hypocrisy
  • Indulging feelings without turning them to God and using Bible
  • Victim mentality

How do you learn to say no to emotion? Get perspective from others, find God’s way out, and look for ways to help other people.

Mental Comfort:

  • Unwilling to learn
  • Don’t like to change mind when reading the Bible

Challenge yourself to think differently and let the Bible change your mind.

Spiritual Comfort:

  • Hard heart
  • Don’t like to pray with emotion and heart
  • No faith to try new things

When we don’t confess our sins to God and to our friends, we are refusing to feel uncomfortable. Instead, we become hard-hearted. We lose the intimacy that comes from knowing each other and forgiving each other. Honesty is where intimacy is born. Do you ever have the thought: “I should be over this by now”? That’s called pride. We all need openness.

Following God’s Lead

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Acts 13:22 (NIV)

David learned to do everything God wanted him to do. How can we do that? Develop a relationship with God that gives you comfort and love. Choose to love God more than you love comfort. Then decide to lead.

David had a heart and a character that God loved. He saw that it was bigger than him. He did what God wanted him to do. He followed God’s lead.

  • Believed God was with him.
  • Relied on God – did what God wanted
  • When he wanted him to attack – he attacked
  • When he wanted him to take care of someone he did
  • When he wanted him to repent he did

Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

2 Samuel 5:12 (NIV)

The result of learning to say no to yourself will be to lead. You will lead people. You will realized that God has done everything in your life for the sake of someone else. Start living for them!