Wednesday morning, I was laying on a bench in my chiropractor's office, receiving stem treatment to my knee, which I recently sprained. Since I just had to lay there for 15 minutes, I pulled out my phone. I have a daily Bible verse app on my phone, and so read the verse for the day. Then I decided that since I was just laying there, I'd pull up the whole chapter and start reading it. The chapter was Matthew 16. When I got to these verses, they really grabbed a hold on my heart.
Matthew 16:23-24 --- "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 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."
I never noticed the second half of verse 23. Read it again:
"Thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Even if you don't read the rest of the chapter, this small fragment of the verse is enough to pierce into the very heart of any Christian. Why? Why should this pierce my heart so?
Because I have so often chosen to follow my flesh, instead of my spirit. How many times have I chosen to not read my Bible first thing in the morning? How many times have I chosen to just dive into the day, without so much as a prayer to God, asking for His strength?
Here are some other things to think about...
Is there anything in your life that is not pleasing to the Lord?
Does your dress reflect the way that God would want you to dress, or does it reflect a sense of worldliness?
What about your music?
What about your friendships?
What about your boyfriend/girlfriend relationship?
What about my thoughts? Do they please the Lord?
And the list could go on and on.
The word savor here means to:
excercise the mind, entertain, or have a sentiment or opinion; to be mentally disposed; to interest oneself in; set the affection on...
My point is this: Whenever we set our affection on, or make an interest in anything that is of the world, and choose those things over what God wants for us, we are an offense to Christ.
You hear those words? They sting to me...
To think that I have offended Christ. Why should I ever want to offend my precious Savior, who sacrificed Heaven's glory, and took upon Himself the lowly form of a servant, and suffered the worse death possible? And all of this He did for YOU and ME.
I know there have been so many times when I have been an offense to Christ. But praise the Lord that He is ready and faithful to forgive, if we simply ask. And despite the many times we become an offense to Christ, He still goes on loving us, and doesn't hold it against us (which doesn't that say something about the way that we should treat others?).
So how do we keep from becoming an offense to Christ?
The next verse says it: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
The paralleling verse in Luke says "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
On a daily basis, we need to live as if we are basically dead. Because anyone carrying a cross knew that they were on their way to die the most gruesome death possible.
Wait....What? Live as if we were dead? How is that possible?
I am reminded of another favorite verse of mine. Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
To take up our cross daily is to crucify our flesh. Kill our own desires. With every decision we make throughout the day, we might ask ourselves:
Does this please Christ?
Would Jesus be doing this right now?
Is this choosing the things of the world, over the things of God?
So, as Christmas comes, I really do want to give Christ something for His birthday. I want to give Him of my whole heart. This will not be easy, and I know I will fail at it so many times. But I know that Jesus is also right beside me to help me up, and to hold my hand, as I choose to make Christ first.
This has just been the words that have been pouring from my heart, and from what Christ is working on in my life right now. I pray that it can be helpful to you as you strive to make Christ the center of your life.
I pray that you have a very merry, and Christ-centered CHRISTmas, as we celebrate the Savior who was born to die for us! Be sure to thank Christ for His unspeakable gift to us, that very first Christmas.
Redeemed by Jesus' blood,