What does taking up your cross mean?
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. “ (Luke 9:23-24)
What does taking up your cross mean? As Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary, “the troubles of Christians are fitly called crosses, in allusion to the death of the cross, which Christ was obedient to; and it should reconcile us to troubles, and take off the terror of them, that they are what we bear in common with Christ, and such as he hath borne before us.” You are not alone in your troubles, in your loneliness, or in your sorrow. While the load you carry is different from that of your neighbour, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you carry a burden. Christ told each one of us to cast all our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7), and preceding that he said, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
Humility is another part of taking up your cross.
Humility is another part of taking up your cross. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,” Jesus said in Luke 9:23. “Let him deny himself”. There is no greater act of humility than self-denial, but how often each one of us are guilty of putting ourselves first: When you refuse to give the gift of forgiveness although Christ has already forgiven you; when you resent that someone else got the glory for the work that you did; when you hold tightly the very grace and mercy given to you by God but you offer it sparingly to those around you. We are all guilty, and we are all self-involved. Taking up your cross requires denial of self, even – and especially – when no one is watching. As Oswald Chambers said, “it is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us.”
Taking up our cross is not about reliance on our own strength.
“Let him…take up his cross daily,” Jesus said in Luke 9:23. We are to take up our cross not just on Sunday, not just when we feel like it or when we want something from God; we are to take up our cross every day. John Piper said, “Sin is ugly. It should be killed daily. I die every day, because Jesus said, ‘Take up your cross daily’ and crosses are for dying.” Each of us fails every day, and the beauty of a relationship with Christ is that He already knows, and He’s already forgiven us. Taking up our cross is not about reliance on our own strength or what we can do, but rather all about reliance on what Christ has already done.
The path may be narrow, but Christ has already paved the way.
“Follow me,” Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:23-24) Keep going. The path may be narrow, but Christ has already paved the way. As C.S. Lewis said, “When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only person in the world.”