ONE OF THE GREATEST TEMPTATIONS IN LIFE IS TO GET COMFORTABLE.
In Matthew’s Gospel we read, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Deny yourself. Jesus was clear. He didn’t promise or even allude to an easy path. He did not promise comfort. He promised quite the opposite. He set denial of self as a primary condition of discipleship, and he promised that each of us would have a cross of our own to carry.
So develop the habit of denying yourself in small ways a dozen times a day. Each time you deny yourself is a spiritual exercise, a spiritual push-up that strengthens the soul. This allows the soul to increasingly respond to grace and to choose what is good, true, noble, and just in every situation.
- Have a glass of water when you would rather have a Coke.
- Force yourself to work out when you would rather not.
- Take the long way home when you are impatient to get home.
- Have the fish when you are craving the steak.
- Wait five minutes before doing something you want to do right now.
This self-denial also allows us to see ourselves for who we really are, and to see in ourselves that best-version-of-ourselves that God created us to be. The daily denial of self allows us to see that we are sinful, but also opens us up to the grace we need in order to overcome our sinfulness.
Excerpt taken from Chapter 33 of Matthew Kelly’s new bestseller Rediscover Jesus. Get your free copy here (just pay shipping).
Learn more about denying yourself through fasting.
What is one way you can deny yourself today?
In addition to the typical fasting during Lent, find another way to deny yourself. You can use one of the suggestions in the book excerpt, or come up with one of your own.
(It’s Friday! Don’t forget to abstain from meat today. For more information, click here.)
Jesus, thank you for all the comforts of this world; help me to discern when they are good for me and when they are not.