SMALL INCREASES OVER TIME
I had just handed my newborn son over to my wife so I could grab our oldest son (who fell asleep on the couch) and put him in his bed. This is something I’ve always done from the time our oldest was very young. Anytime he fell asleep on the couch after we watched a movie, had a family game night, or something along those lines, the tradition has been for me to pick him up and carry him to his room where he can sleep comfortably. But this time it was different…I went from handling my 7 pound newborn to my almost 70 pound 9 year old and I asked myself in that moment “When did he get so big? Did this kid have a growth spurt?”
We have a piece of furniture that we have used to mark the height of our oldest son every year since he was about 3. And over the years my wife has shown me pictures of him when he was younger, and every time I see that chart or those pictures, I begin to question how he is not only not that small anymore, HE IS NOWHERE CLOSE! How did this toddler I used to pick up trouble free with one hand have grown into the young man that I sometimes struggle to pick up with two? I have failed to see a drastic change that someone who only sees him once or twice a year would see because I am with him every day. As each day passes, my boys get a little bit taller, a little stronger, a little heavier, with the occasional reminder that their old man will still have the upper hand on them no matter how old or big they gets (hopefully). But small increases, no matter how minimal they may seem, add up to big changes and great improvements.
Let us keep that in mind as we consider the words of our Lord in Luke 9:23—
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Christ said those who come after Him, that is those who make the free will choice to become one of His disciples and submit to His teaching, are required to do two things according to this verse… FIRST—They are to deny themselves. The denial of oneself is to put the Lord first at all times. Jesus says if one is going to become a follower of His, a selfless mentality is required. Not only that, Christ says the SECOND requirement is to take up one’s cross and follow Him. While the taking up of one’s cross is often understood to mean an individual bearing his or her burden in this life, like one who has an illness or what they believe to be an unfair situation could be regarded as “carrying their cross,” the carrying of one’s cross is better understood to mean a willingness to lose one’s life for the Lord. Seeing someone carrying their cross in the first century didn’t make one think that individual was carrying a heavy load (although that may have been true) as much as it made those seeing it understand that person with the cross was headed towards death by execution. This is what Christ says it takes to be a follower of His, a denial of self and a willing to die for Him. But I want to draw our attention to a very important word in this passage, and that word is DAILY.
We must be willing to deny ourselves on a daily basis, we must take up our cross on a daily basis. Every day is another opportunity to win a spiritual battle for the Lord! If we have been victories in our war against evil, great! Let us keep fighting the good fight as those victories for the Lord add up! Not vainly attempting to earn salvation, but for the purpose of fighting well for our King. But if we have been recently defeated, unsuccessful in fighting against the devil, don’t be discouraged. Obviously don’t be ok with such defeats, but if the Lord wills and we are fortunate to see another day, there will be another opportunity. And when we have the opportunity to win another battle for the Lord, we have the responsibility to fight! Don’t look at the number of battles previously lost, instead focus on the present conflict and the power of Christ to conquer! Because small victories over time accumulate! Don’t disregard your daily spiritual victories for Christ! In doing so we can give our God a reason to look at us, knowing where we once were, and be well pleased with the progress we have made, and the direction we are going.