For years, I have struggled with this verse in the Bible:
I interpreted this verse to mean that if you saw someone in need, you were to drop what you were doing and take care of their needs first, even if there was something important you were doing. In other words, that other person’s need was more important than my needs, or the needs of my family.
I thought living this way would make me a happier and more joyful person because back in my day JOY meant — Jesus, Others and You — in that order! But years of functioning this way did not produce joy in my life and in fact it became ugly.
Between working my part-time job that included shift work, caring for my family and serious health issues, I continued to step over my needs, and the needs of my family, to encourage and help others.
But, at home I ended up a wreck, both physically and emotionally, because the guilt of “not doing enough” consumed me. It felt like I was never doing enough for others. I was allowing my “doing” to define my “being” and it was a vicious cycle, because I never felt I was doing enough, which meant I was a constant failure.
My whole identity was wrapped around my good works and what I did for others. And, the more I endured and did what I thought was right, the worse things became in my life.
What turned my life around was by understanding what it meant to deny myself.
And, for women, in particular, we need to get a grip because a correct interpretation of this vital, life changing verse will propel us forward and lead us to well-being, joy, and purpose.
First, relying on the approval of others for our sense of self-worth is not Biblical. Sometimes we are driven to do things hoping to gain others approval and this is wrong.
Secondly, we need to understand our true identity and self-worth is not wrapped up in what we do, but rather in understanding our importance and value to God.
God values us because we are created in His image and not by what we do.
Yes, we sinned and because God so valued us, He sent His son to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. This is a powerful picture of God’s love for us.
I recently had a revelation or vision of what denying ourselves and taking up our cross for Jesus really means.
In my mind’s eye, I had a vision of me denying or stopping behaviors that were unhealthy for me. This included lying, gossip, and my desperate need to gain the approval of others by what I did. I needed to stop the people-pleasing.
For the first time, I fully appreciated my value in the eyes of God. Through this I found the strength to pursue a wholesome lifestyle, with priorities that honored my needs and the needs of my family.
This revelation helps me understand that there are times we make sacrifices. And, because we know our value in the eyes of God, we can make choices and sacrifices for the right reasons as they line up with our responsibilities and purpose in life. I serve because I want to, not out of some sordid need to get approval.
The cross I carry reminds me of God’s love and the great value He has put on my life.
The cross I carry reminds me that I don’t need the approval of man because Christ’s shed blood makes me approved by God.
The cross I carry empowers me to step forward with confidence, integrity and purpose.