When push comes to shove, I’d rather have someone go too far with self-denial than completely ignore it. To ignore self-denial is to miss the entire point of Christian living. To go too far with it merely means you got carried away, if at least you act on what you saw in the Word.
There is much talk about being like Jesus. What Would Jesus Do? as a fad has come and gone, as all fads do, but it raised a good point.
We talk about Christlikeness and talk about fellow believers who we praise for being a “Christ-like example.” However, many of these people I’ve heard praised this way look absolutely nothing like the Christ of the Bible, so I wonder what they even mean by that.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of self-denial. He humbled Himself in the form of a servant. He came to do His Father’s will. He came not to be served but to serve. He could have brought down 12 legions of angels to blow away the bad guys, but He denied all this. As Paul says, “He pleased not Himself.”
What a statement! He pleased not himself. Wow. That’s what Christlikeness is–self-denial.
So, Paul, who tells us to be like Christ, says in 1 Corinthians 10:24 “Let no man seek his own” and goes on to say “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
Self-denial is not something Christ did so we don’t have to. This is something Christ did and Paul did and they both tell us to do the same thing. Why?
Because this is how people are awakened to the Gospel. They observe your selflessness, you are one of the few people in the world who isn’t trying to sell something, you’re not in it for your profit, you are in it for their profit.
The world can’t do this! The world finds this to be stupid, which is why most Christians find self-denial stupid and why the Church is so ineffectual at truly saving souls.
Want to be like Christ? Then deny yourself that others might find Christ.