Finally understanding what it means to "die to self"

christianity, testimony

I think that in the back of my mind, I always knew the definition of “dying to self”. We hear it all the time. My absolute favorite scripture (as seen in the heading of my blog) talks about it. Here’s Mark 8:35-38:

35″For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
36″For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
37″For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
38″For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

A few weekends ago, I asked the middle school girls of a discipleship-now weekend what “losing your life” means. To die to self, deny yourself. We read this passage and they were stumped. I proceeded with this explanation: Before we know Christ, we have a set way that we talk, act, look, etc. We roll with who we roll with, and we act how we want to act. But when we come to Christ, we change all that. We start acting like Christ, and this permeates every part of us. So we are denying our old lives and “dieing” to it. That is why baptism is such a great symbol for us… it symbolizes that not only have our sins of that old life been washed away, but our life itself is renewed, thus our “rebirth”. It makes sense…it’s pretty simple.

I’m going to tell you about the life I died to and why this is so real for me.

Growing up, I dealt with a lot of crap. Life wasn’t easy for me at all (and it’s never gotten much easier). Now I know that most feel the same way as me, but I’m going to explain myself. I grew up in a very secular house; love, especially the unconditional love of Christ, was not present at all. My parents got married because they got pregnant with me. Living in the hood, I got picked on all the time at school. I was beat up every day until I finally fought back. There was a lot of anger harbored in me for quite some time (and still even harbored, I’ll get to that).

Even though I accepted Jesus into my heart, my culture still was a part of me. I grew up in a place where if someone so much looked at you the wrong way, you were expected to fight. And I did. When someone said something that displeased you, you would have to go off on them and curse them out. It was the only socially accpetable way. So the first 17 years of my life, that is how I dealt with things. My senior year of high school, I dramatically changed. I realized that it wasn’t profitable for the kingdom of God. And now that I go to a Christian school, I am better at keeping my cool. It’s weird to think about how different I am from my old self…and I think that people who knew me growing up would agree.

Lately, I’ve seen a bit of my old self, which has sparked this blog post. There was something that happened earlier this week that caused me to behave completely out of my character; I resorted to telling someone off. And every time something has been said to me this week, I have really struggled with not doing the same. I grew up in a culture where this behavior was expected, but I don’t want to be bound by it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”


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