In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus says, "...If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" This is the essence of our coming to Christ and following Him.

     Most of the time when we hear "Christians" and "giving" in the same sentence, we think of money and time.  Make no mistake; these are attributes of one who has given themselves to Christ.  However, individuals can be giving money and time and not have given themselves to Christ.  These individuals are using time and money to "purchase" praise from their fellow man (see Matthew 6:1-4). Individuals during the time of Jesus were doing this very thing.  No, when one gives of himself, they no longer seek their own good, but the good of others (see 1 Corinthians 10:24). They no longer please themselves at the cost of others.  Paul says in Romans 15:2-3, "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, 'The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.'"  As we can see, Christ did not please himself at the cost of others.  The call to us as Christians is one of service to others.  In Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus tells His disciples that whoever was to be great among us would be the servant, whoever wanted to be first must be the slave for the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for us.

Many of us will find ourselves in the place of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-22 who came to Jesus to ask Him what he should do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus named the commandments and the rich man told Him that he had observed the commandments from his youth.  Jesus beheld him and loved him and told him that he lacked one thing.  Go and sell what he had giving it to the poor and take up his cross and follow Him.  The rich man was sad for he had many riches and so went away grieved.  He could not give himself to follow Jesus because of his riches.  What do you have that keeps you from giving yourself to Jesus?

Charles Royal, Decatur AL