Experiencing the Blessing of Dying to Self
- Janet Thompson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 17 Mar
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, could you be holding onto some of your old ways while putting on your new life in Christ? That will never work: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT).
You Want to Do What?
I was surprised at my husband’s shocked reaction to my request; but then I’d had time to think and pray about it…
I became a believer at the age of twelve, but by my late twenties, I was a divorced single mom with a successful career. For the next seventeen years I backslid into a world dominated by a cultural shift away from Christian values. Then my hairdresser invited me to a Harvest Crusade where Pastor Greg Laurie challenged the crowd: “If you died tonight, are you ready?” No, I wasn’t ready!
I cried out to God that his prodigal daughter was returning and I promised to do whatever he asked and go wherever he led.
I didn’t know then the ramifications of my vow, but my life began changing. I married a godly man, enrolled in seminary, started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, and founded About His Work Ministries. But something still didn’t feel right. I was about the Lord’s work, yet so much of me was at the core of everything I did: My ministry. My writing. My speaking. My team. My, my, my…
I opened my Bible and saw the problem and solution:
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives” (Romans 6:6 NLT).
“My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not "mine," but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that” (Galatians 2:20-21, The Message).
Convicted, I asked my husband: “Will you pray over me to completely die to myself and only live for Christ?” I expected an enthusiastic, “Honey, that’s wonderful! Let’s do it now.” Instead, he asked, “Are you sure? You really need to pray about that.” I assured him I had prayed and I had to get me out of the way to be “About His Work.”
After praying about my request, Dave said if I was going to take such a significant spiritual step, he would take it with me. So we knelt, held hands, and prayed that God would help us die to our own agendas and live solely for him. We didn’t expect immediate selflessness—it’s a life-long process—but we did immediately feel the significance of our commitment to the Lord and to each other.
The Secret to a Happy Marriage
Several years ago, I heard a couple interviewed on the Oprah show. It was a second marriage for each, and the wife raved about what a wonderful husband he was and that she never knew a man like this existed. Oprah asked the husband what he did to make his wife so happy and he said, “I died to myself.” Oprah didn’t understand what he meant, and questioned something to the effect of: What do you mean you’ve died? You look pretty alive to me! The wife explained: “As Christians, we’ve died to ourselves.” Oprah was still perplexed and confused. She shook her head and changed the subject.
My husband and I understand what this couple had discovered. Here’s what my husband wrote in the Epilogue to Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man.
"So I leave you with these final words: Living with your spouse in stay-at-home man seasons of life, while different, is no more challenging than any other season of married life. You just have to constantly die to self as God teaches us, consider your spouse more important than yourself, and work as a team . . . I’m still learning this principle and have to die to myself many times daily."
Experiencing the Blessing of Dying to Self
Since Dave and I prayed to exchange our ways for God’s ways, God has seen us through challenging times and amazing times and we’re always careful to give him the glory. Every morning I pray John 3:31 “He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
If you too want to experience the blessings of dying to self, are you ready to—
1. Completely surrender your will to God’s will?
2. Seek God’s direction before making decisions and respond accordingly?
3. Be in the minority—sometimes even among fellow Christians?
4. Care about others more than your own well-being and comfort?
5. Live counter-culture?
6. Care more about what God thinks about you then what people think about you?
Don’t worry if you can’t answer yes to all the questions, this is a process. Choose one area to start with and ask God to help you see things through His eyes, to hurt where he hurts and love how he loves. Get ready—you’re on your way to dying to self so that you can live a new life in Christ!
"Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he [Jesus] said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Mark 8:34-37).
Janet Thompson is an international speaker and an award-winning author of 17 books including: The Team That Jesus Built, Woman to Woman Mentoring Resources, Face-to-Face Bible study series, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?, Dear God, He’s Home! and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet at: womantowomanmentoring.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Twitter!
Publication date: March 17, 2014