“Taking Up the Cross”
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The command, “Take up the cross,” is no doubt a strange one to the new beginner; therefore, for his special benefit we will hurriedly explain a part of what is meant by “taking up the cross.” We are not to understand by the word cross that Christ meant for us to carry a crucifix on our person or hang a picture of the cross upon the wall. It means those phases of Christian duty which go against our grain and cross the desires of the natural man. The following are some of the things which constitute the cross:
The pastor appoints you to lead the young people’s meeting or the prayer-meeting and just as soon as he does so you will feel a strange burden on your heart. Now from the human side of the matter you will feel like excusing yourself and telling him to appoint some one else; this kind of conduct, however, is what the Christian people call “shirking the cross,” but if you resist this inclination to shirk and go right against your feelings and take the meeting as you were appointed, that would be “taking up the cross.”
Again, you may be appointed by the sick committee to sit up at night with a sick brother; you may be willing to go, only you realize to some extent how greatly it will disadvantage you, but in order to please God you strain a point and go. This would be another way of “taking up the cross.”
Still another way of taking it up is when you feel that the Lord would have you spend the day in fasting and prayer. This, of course, will be rudely protested by your appetite; nevertheless, you make the sacrifice and obey God.
No one can keep the victory and live for God who is given to shirking the cross. On the other hand, if we deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily, it will bear us on to the highlands of holiness and finally up to the city whose streets are gold, whose gates are pearl, whose inhabitants are saints and angels and whose king is Jehovah.