Courageous Acts of Self-Denial

This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on February 21 2016.

I’ve been reading a biography of George Müller with Rachael lately. In the earlier part it is described how Müller as a very new Christian made two sacrifices. The first was that he burned a novel that he had been commissioned to translate from German into French. In his mind, it was part of his old life that he wanted to leave behind. The second sacrifice concerned a young Christian woman that he had grown to love – his attachment to her was dampening his enthusiasm for a work he believed God was calling him to, and consequently suffocating his newfound faith and love for God. So he gave her up.

Neither of the things he sacrificed were bad things. But these were his “first courageous acts of self denial in surrender to the voice of the Spirit” and they definitively shaped him as a Christian man from his early days. I remember in my own formative Christian years making a few similar sacrifices – some were rather drastic decisions, others I kind of just allowed to happen. By and large they were not bad things, but they were things I believed I had to surrender, and these acts defined my Christian character in ways that have been fruitful in later years.

Many of you may also recall such acts in your own earlier days in the faith, and appreciate the blessing they have been to you. The risk now is that we can ‘rest on our laurels’ and become comfortably settled in the way we live our Christian life. The life we live for Christ is meant to be one of self-denial. Is it time to retune to the voice of the Holy Spirit and commit some further courageous acts?