Imagine that you are 90 years-old and reflecting back on your life. When you recall most of your past actions, will you:
- Be happy with how your life turned out?
- Or will you be filled with regret over your choices?
Will you say most often, “I am glad I did that” or say, “I wish I had done that”?
If you want to live with meaning and purpose, then these are critical questions to ask yourself often.
The reason I’m asking them is because a TBYT reader asked me the meaning of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:25:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
This scripture speaks of someone who aligns their life’s priority, purpose, and focus to walk in step with God daily.
Before Jesus spoke those words to His disciples, He had told them about the things He would suffer at the hands of the elders and priests, that He would be killed, and raised up on the third day.
But then Peter had the nerve to rebuke Jesus. He said: “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
Jesus’ response to Peter is a great life lesson on proper priorities for us: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
It may seem harsh for Jesus to associate Peter with Satan, but He was really speaking to the spirit behind Peter’s words.
It is an offense to Jesus when you are not mindful of God’s priorities, but only think of your own gratification. That mindset is against everything for which Jesus stands.
Peter rebuked Jesus because he was likely thinking about how his close association with Jesus was going to affect him personally, in a negative way. So he did not want God’s plan to go forth.
Peter was not willing to “take up his cross” at that time.
Another example of someone who was not willing to take up his cross was the rich young ruler (see Mark 10:17-22). He came to Jesus, asking what he could do to obtain eternal life:
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
The rich young ruler had the source of eternal life right in front of him, but walked away from Him empty and sorrowful instead. Why?
Scripture says that the rich young ruler had great possessions. Based on his actions, he did not want to give them up.
He was more mindful of the things of men than the things of God!
If you want the best of life, then you must order your actions according to God’s priorities and purpose. Jesus died on the cross so that you might have abundant life.
In John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Regarding your weight loss, the right mindset is to see this health issue as an opportunity to know the Lord better as you rely upon Him daily to overcome your challenges!
While fitting into a smaller clothing size and looking good is wonderful, don’t get it twisted. A twisted motive is just being mindful of the things of men, not of God.
When Jesus was just twelve years-old, He was already had His priorities straight:
Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business (see Luke 2:49)?”
The apostle Paul sums up the purpose and reason for taking up your cross and following Jesus daily (boldness is mine for emphasis):
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:7-11).”
That is the essence of your new life in Christ. You value your relationship with God above everything else – yes, even above your necessary food.
Old things have passed away. Behold, all things have been made new! What will it profit you to gain a slimmer body, but miss out the daily intimate relationship God wants to have with you through Jesus Christ?
Again, don’t get your life twisted. Put first things first!
When you take up your cross, you commit to walking just as Jesus walked.
So even as you are working on improving your health and weight, you are mindful of the things of God. In doing so, you please the Lord. And that is something to be glad about!
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Are you struggling with the challenges of emotional eating? Many people with eating issues know what to do but have a hard time doing it. That is where you need a community that supports each other!