Now, I know what you're thinking based off of the title:
What kind of a blog post is this going to be?!?
Aren't we not EVER supposed to give up?
Shouldn't we keep going instead?
Did Apostle Paul not say in Philippians 3 that we should press on until we reach the end?
Yes, yes, and yes!
But, the title of today's post, "How to Give Up," isn't referring to your endurance in life's tough situations. You should never stop moving forward. You should always keep on keepin' on. But, according to what Jesus said in Luke 9:23, there are some ways about us that we need to—you guessed it—give up.
And, I'm writing this blog post to talk about how.
The verse says this:
Then He [JESUS] said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me." — Luke 9:23
And, once I heard that verse back in the early stages of my relationship with The Lord, I was nearly horrified. In other words, I used to read this verse as:
Become a religious robot. Obey the commands of your new dictator, Jesus Christ. Sacrifice the person God Himself made you to be because who He made you to be doesn't already please Him. Don't have likes, interests, hobbies, or desires. You're not allowed to have any dreams, nor should you have any goals. And, if you do, then the answer is clear: You're not a real Christian!!!
But, then I got a little older and learned to study this verse a little closer and found out a comforting revelation:
That's not what Jesus is saying at all.
He's not telling you to give up the person He Himself made you to be. No! You should be the person God made you to be. You should enjoy and trust the desires that God Himself gave you, and it's healthy to have and take part in the hobbies that God specifically designed you to be interested in. But, the way you lash out in anger? Hold grudges? Cuss people out? Harbor unforgiveness?
That's the way He's asking you to give up—
the harmful way we behave in that hurts ourselves and other people.
And, He's not just asking you to give it up. He's asking anyone who wants to follow Him to give it up. If you want to be my follower, is how He begins His command in Luke 9, verse 23.
So, how would you answer? And, be honest.
Do you want to follow Him?
If the answer is no, I hate to exclude you, but this blog post isn't for you. (And, not to mention, you are missing out on living a full, complete, and abundant life.)
But, if your answer is yes? Then, lean in. Let's talk about how we can do this together.
If you want to know how to give up—that is, your own way—the first thing you have to do is identify exactly what that way is.
In other words, King David put it like this:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
— Psalms 139:23-24 (NIV)
So, the first step on how to give up your way is to ask yourself—or better yet, ask The One who made you—this:
What is your offensive way?
Do you isolate yourself?
Do you treat people unlike the way you want to be treated?
Do you play the blame game?
Do you run away from constructive criticism?
Are you mean to people?
Do you try to please people more than you try to be yourself?
You fill in the blank.
What are some ways in you that you have to give up?
If you've been here for a while, you would know I've confessed this before:
It's what I do best!
I'm a professional at it. I've been doing it for years.
But, remembering what my Father said way back when earth was first born that it wasn't good for me to be alone (Genesis 2:18)—the conviction is clear:
I need to give up my way of isolation.
And, how I can take everything so personal? Hold an offense against someone? Not the greatest confession when I remember He said in Matthew 6 to forgive as He has forgiven me.
These are some ways I must give up.
If you want me to keep going, I could! But, that's not this kind of blog post. (Sounds more like a diary entry, in fact.)
But, instead, it's your turn to answer. What are some ways you need to give up?
'Cause you can't give up your way if you don't even know what your way is.
This is the fun part in prayer where you get to be honest. This is the point where you're able to get real—where the Holy Spirit not only touches the offensive way in you but teaches you to live His way.
Well, next, He'll urge you to do something...
Next in Luke 9:23, Jesus says to take up your cross—not once, not twice, but daily.
Take up your cross, as in—deny that offensive way you are still tempted to behave in, such as, giving the finger to the driver who cut you off in traffic, growing impatient with the short-staffed restaurant, thinking of ways to get revenge on the person who hurt you most—to deny the way you want to behave in and instead...choose God's way!
Instead...forgive! Instead...love! Instead...speak blessings over your enemies and not curses!
All of this is tough.
But, if you want to follow Jesus and do it His way—the perfect, healthiest, and most fruitful way of all, might I add—then this is what is required of you.
And, not just do it His way, but do it daily.
To deny yourself daily.
To forgive daily.
To love all people daily.
To say no to temptation daily.
Whatever taking up your cross looks like for you, do it daily.
And, while that may seem like an impossible task, here's some good news:
You don't have to give up your way and take up your cross without an instruction manual.
The life Jesus lived here on earth is the perfect model for you to live by. He's not just telling us to give up our way. He actually demonstrated this by giving up His! Not my will, but Yours be done, is what He prayed before He chose the cross. In other words, even Jesus did the hard thing and went in the Father's way instead of His own. He denied His will and chose the Father's. He decided to be led in God's way and not in His flesh's way. He took up our cross and died for our sins. He forgave the people who hurt Him. (In fact, some of the last words He spoke before His death were, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do"!) He loved His enemies. He stood up for the oppressed. He blessed those who cursed Him. He loved those who hated Him.
He did everything that He's commanding us to do in Luke 9:23:
Give up our way, and take up our cross.
And, when we follow Him, we have a front row seat to the most perfect example of what giving up our way looks like. We can study how He did it. We can learn from Him—learning how to talk to the Father in the secret place, as taught in Luke 11:1-4, how to forgive when it's hard (Matthew 18:21-22), how to deal with conflict with care and compassion (Matthew 5:23-24).
To follow Him is to imitate Him.
To learn from Him. To live as He did.
We give up our way, so we can learn to walk in His. And, giving up our way is worth it. If we keep behaving in our own offensive ways, we will not produce any real fruit. It keeps us stuck in the place we're trying to leave. But, following Him and learning His way instead leads us along the path of everlasting life, as said in Psalms 139:24. His way is better. His thoughts are higher. And, it's worth it to pray what Moses prayed in Exodus 33—let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully, he said in verse 13—so that we can continue to enjoy His favor and live the abundant life He died for us to have.
But, it all starts with giving up our way first.
And, after remembering the way He laid down His life by dying for us on the cross—giving up His way—we have a perfect example of how we can give up ours.