Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

Denying Yourself as a Key to Peace

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

We live in a world that emphasizes “self”: what we want and how we can add value to ourselves through what we do. This mindset affects every area in life: family, work, friendships, romantic relationships, and a relationship with God. Being most important, our relationship with God affects every other area in our lives. If we are focusing on ourselves and our ability, how are we seeking and trusting God?

I have been in the mindset of so desperately wanting something for my life that I clung to it and grasped on to it so hard. We must be careful not to make anything an idol by valuing it above what God wants, which if we are focusing on self, can become easier than we would like to think. If you are feeling that way, keep in mind, when your hands are clenched shut from holding onto something, you are leaving no room for God to work in your life. Instead, when you open your hands and raise them in surrender, you now choose to open yourself to whatever God has in store. Spoiler alert: what God has in mind is always better than any plans we have for ourselves, even if it is hard or not what we expected. Plus, the amazing thing about God is that He will use that time that you were not open to obeying Him and use it for good (Genesis 50:20).

Last year, I have realized that the key to surrender is realizing that life is not about me, rather life is about glorifying Jesus and showing others who He is. John 1:1-3 (ESV) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything that was made.” From the very beginning, everything was about Jesus. The Old Testament is about waiting for the Messiah, the Gospels testify to His life, and now, we are still in the New Testament, waiting for Jesus to return. While we wait for His return, Jesus calls us to go and tell others about Him, making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

We should be seeking God and His Will in all we do. He is Sovereign, meaning He is all powerful. There is not a single thing that God is not in control of, which shows how almighty He truly is. Therefore, our value does not come from anything we can do, but from what God does and did. Our value comes from God sending Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement, satisfying His wrath against our sins, reconciling us to Him. We are worthy because of Christ when we repent, turn away from previous sin, and accept Jesus as Savior over our lives. Having worth because of Christ instead of self makes us even more worthy! The book of Romans is a great resource for studying this concept more in-depth.

I spent most of my life working to make sure I was doing all I could to be to do enough, creating a pressure of perfectionism. It is great to have goals, but when you put the sole worth of yourself in them, you can approach them in an unhealthy way. When I realized that it is Jesus, not I, who make me worthy, it took a huge burden and relief off my back. My worth is not based off my own ability, and this made accomplishing goals a lot easier and more enjoyable. Instead of focusing on if I was doing enough, I started dedicating all I did to Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31), knowing that I could only do my best, and seeking God’s Word more for what He wanted me to do. My perfectionism was replaced by gratitude, more trust, and a heart seeking God. Instead of focusing and putting pressure on my own wants, my desire shifted to aligning my wants with God’s and opening myself to whatever He wants to do with my life.

Seeking God’s Will over my own has led to a true transformation in my perspective and attitude. For example, from seeking God and reading His Word, I learned that things constantly change in life, but God does not change, and we can put our hope in that (Malachi 3:6). As Matthew 6:33 (ESV) says, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” There is such peace in that for a recovering perfectionist or someone who struggles with anxiety. A personal example is that I went into law school so worried about making perfect grades to get a job after I graduate. Now, I find peace and trust God that if I try my best, I know He has a job and purpose for me. What job is that? He knows and it is exciting to watch His plan unfold. The emphasis is now on His Sovereignty and knowing that you cannot mess up His plans for your life. Just wake up, show up, and seek Him in all things.

The crux of learning to deny yourself and surrender is Matthew 16:24 (ESV) “Then Jesus told His disciples. ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Taking up your cross means dying to self every day, dying to emotion, and replacing it with action that follows God’s principles. Taking up your cross means that we need to stop picking and choosing different parts of the Bible to follow, rather it is etching into your heart all that God says. We must follow God no matter where He takes you, no matter what season. We must feed our spirit and die to the flesh. God never promised easy, but He did promise that He would never leave us or forsake us and a peace beyond all understanding (Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:7). Those promises remind you that you will be okay no matter what.

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves, such as unborn babies, and for connecting families through adoption. In any free time, she loves to read (Victorian lit is her favorite), study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is King David or Paul.

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