“Only love for Christ has the power to incapacitate the sturdy love for self that is the bane of every sinner, and only the grace of Christ has the power to produce that love” – Paul David Tripp
Tripp goes on to point out that death of self is a prerequisite to fulling loving Christ. Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23 that we are required to daily take up our own cross. This is not a one and done type event but a continual process that requires discipline.
It was love for us that put Jesus on the Cross. It is love for Jesus that compels us toward our own cross. It is love for Jesus that motivates us to die to self. Love always involves a cross; love requires the death of our own desires for the sake of the one we love.
I know that I have only a partial understanding of what it means to take up my cross. What would it look like if I died a complete death to self? My self is a stubborn old coot and refuses to die.
Consider these verses from Paul:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” (Colossians 1:9, ESV)
One takeaway from these verses is that while I must participate by taking up my own cross, I cannot do it in my own strength and wisdom. Christ must empower me to do so. It was Jesus’ love that bound him to his cross on my behalf and it is his love that can propel me toward my own cross. As David Trip reminds us in the quotation above, only Christ’s love can conquer my stubborn self-love. Apart from his love, I have no available power to conquer my pride and self absorption.