My Daily Death Part Three
In Part 1 and 2 of “My Daily Death” we looked at Christ’s example of self-sacrifice and how to die to our will, our wants, and our ways. We saw how the basis of dying to self is agape love from God for us to give back to God(Rom 5:5), and love for others. We learned that to die to ourselves is to truly thrive. As I meditated on what it looks like to die to self in daily life, I contemplated six main areas in which we can put these truths into action today! These areas are: our home, our church, this world, our words, in fear of man and in trials. In this third post, we will look at dying to self in our home and in our church.
First is in the HOME:
The very nature of home life is daily dying. These people, who we know so well, who likely know us better than we know ourselves, seem to have the greatest opportunity for helping us with our sanctification and self-denial opportunities. The 5th and 6th chapters of Ephesians lay out some specifics of how to have a quiet and peaceable home life.
Ephesians 5:1- 6:9
Children, obey your parents
Honor your father and mother
Walk in love
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord
Speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies
These are the main areas God has instructed us to lay ourselves down- in the marriage relationship, in parenting, for children towards their parents, to one another in the family of Christ. We are not our own, and nothing reminds us of this more than being a mother. This is such a sweet gift of God to us. We die to self by sacrificing ourselves for the next generation; by being willing to give them all they need, including both pleasure and discipline. We die to self for our children from the beginning of pregnancy until the day we die, and the sooner we learn this lesson, and submit to this character of Christ, the sooner He can be honored and we will be noble in these endeavors.
I'm going to say something that many of you likely know, maybe some of you don't … even if we know this, few of us live it out everyday: God calls you to die to yourself regardless of how your husband, or children, or even parents and in-laws respond back to you.
Think about that for a minute. So what you're saying, Jill, is that
Even if my husband acts selfishly,
My kids act selfishly (isn't that redundant?)
My in-laws or my parents act selfishly
I am not allowed to respond equally towards them?
That's right. 100% No.
Now, we know that’s biblically right, but we fight against it daily, don’t we? That's why Paul says, “I die daily.” It is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute fight against the flesh to treat others the way we want to be treated- starting with the people in our homes. The people who know all our buttons, our idols, and our “don't go theres.” That situation or person who is the hardest for you to love is God’s gift to you to help you to practice daily dying. Through God's Spirit you can learn to love any person in the 1 Corinthians 13, self-sacrificial love pattern. The people in your home help strip away your dependence of “leaning on your own understanding” and allow you to truly seek to serve and love others in the ways they need to be served and loved. This is dying to self.
Here are a few other ways your dying to self may be tested in your home:
Children who whine and complain endlessly. Here you can die to self in providing consistent discipline, and in finding helpful ways to derail them. But as you train … you must also die to speaking sharply, scolding, threatening or angry outbursts. Sometimes we have to look at where we are failing, and not cast all blame onto foolish, unsaved children. We must seek to walk in the Spirit, and die to self in our disrupted, less-than-picture-perfect lives.
Spiritually weak husbands who don't lead you as you desire. Are you left to grow alone? Maybe it's time to stop nagging your husband and seek Christ to be your all-in-all. Or maybe you have a husband who is sick, bedridden, or in deep trials. They may whine and murmur, or constantly criticize. Are you dying to self to put on a meek and quiet servant spirit?
As an older woman. Do you need to die to self in seeking free time and pleasure in your now-quiet home and retirement? Are there younger women you could spend your free time coming alongside, and serving with childcare or discipleship? The church is our spiritual family that we must die to self for, too.
Maybe you are tested by opposite personalities in your home. Maybe you live with a super-quiet deep thinker, or people like me who are extroverted talkers. Perhaps you wish you could just be alone or maybe you wish the other person would engage in relationships more. How can you die to self? How do you push yourself with the family God has given you and in social situations, using your spiritual gifts and words for the edification of other believers? The home is the perfect place to practice this.
Younger girls under parental authority. Excellent wife in training, do you have parents or adults who are critical of you in front of others-on purpose or on accident? Can you die to self by humbly copying Jesus quiet responses? Can you put off anger at others’ insensitivities and forgive, love and die to self by displaying love, obedience and honor? Love your family regardless of their shortcomings and trust their leadership under God.
For moms at home. Are you dissatisfied with your role at home in the labor years of parenting? Are you comparing your life to other women and other families? Are you discontent to be home training, discipling, wiping bottoms and noses, “shoveling while it's still snowing” all the toys and mess? Have you considered that even changing diapers is an act of worship to God? Are you recognizing the high calling of motherhood and homemaking? Perhaps you homeschool and it's not the rosy picture you imagined. Do you need to die to your idols of perfect domestic tranquility and peace? Do you need to die to self in having a perfectly clean house? Do you need to die to self to stay home in order to home-school?
Maybe you are single with a slobby or noisy roommate. How can you die to self? Certainly communicate the need for the roommate to contribute, work hard and live orderly, but instead of fuming at always washing their dishes or picking up their towel…do their work at times in kindness, pray for them….find a way to rejoice always even in the difficulty. Look for the ways God is sanctifying your heart and refining it as gold in the hot fire of these unique trials.
This point flows naturally into another area of dying to self and that is within the body of Christ.
Second is in the CHURCH:
Gifts are from God, for God, and empowered by God. All believers are given varying spiritual gifts to help the body of Christ on earth work and serve and be useful. The scripture is very specific about how we are to die to self within the church:
Philippians 2:1-5 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 12:3-8 “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.”
We must die to selfish desires with our fellow believers. How can we do that? Start by recognizing God’s unique creation of you, and his unique creation of others to form your local body. Friend you will not learn how to die to pride, judgments and envy, and truly love others above yourself, unless you get your hands dirty getting busy working side by side with these people. God gives such different gifts to each person, and to see them work in the power of His Spirit, with God's energizing power, is like standing on holy ground.
I love this quote by MacArthur back in the 70's. "So, unity is the key. One body. The other metaphors give the idea of it but the body is the best one of all. We are one wife with one husband, one flock with one shepherd, one set of branches with one vine, one kingdom with one King, one family with one Father, one building with one foundation and one body with one head. And in a body you see unity in a way you can't see it anywhere else. A single body and yet just amazing diversity and mutual dependence. The human body is a perfect illustration of how the church is to function. When Grace Church learned these truths and we stopped being a group of people sitting in our own little sanctified seat, watching it happen and we started functioning like a body, coordinating and mutually ministering and loving and sharing, then we begin to move. And then we began to understand the riches of our resources in Christ."
We must die to the idea that we go to church to be served. On the contrary, we go to church to serve. As we are preparing ourselves and driving to church we should be considering how we are needed to form our local church body. Are you a giver, or a taker only, at your local fellowship?
This week, or even right now, take some time to pray and ask God where you need to die to self, with His gracious help, in your home life, and in your church.