“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.” (Matthew 16:24)
The beauty of God’s holy attributes should compel us to fall immediately before Him in ceaseless worship and delight. Do we? A close inspection of our behavior reveals the answer.
God’s beautiful nature is adored by sinful man . . . when it agrees with his self-interest. Man cries out to God’s omnipotence when he wants to be rescued from the consequences of sin, but he rails against God’s sovereignty when it takes the life of one he loves. Man comforts himself in God’s omniscience when it keeps track of his good deeds; he hates God’s knowledge when it holds him accountable for misbehavior. Man loves God’s omnipresence when he’s fearful; he rejects it when he’s engaged in immorality. Man delights in God’s freedom to do as He pleases—except when it crosses his plans. Man rejoices in God’s perfect justice because it punishes his evil adversaries; he spurns it when he’s committed the crime.
Some may object: “Aren’t there attributes of God that all people worship, like His mercy and love?” Yes—when it serves their purposes. Man receives God’s mercy when it’s extended to him; he scorns it when it’s extended to his rivals. Man relishes God’s love when it results in his salvation from hell; he repudiates God’s love when it results in salvation for his mother’s murderer. Man is pleased when God is patient with him; he can’t understand why God would be patient with his atheistic neighbor. It’s perfectly logical that God would be slow to anger with him; it’s unbelievable that God would be slow to anger with dictators.
Do you see the problem? Our self-seeking stands in the way of our worship. Hence our need for self-denial, as today’s verse so clearly articulates. NTJ