What does it mean to die to self?

Jesus said, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’ (John 12:24).

As long as Jesus remained alive, a few might turn to God by his teaching and preaching, but ultimately, the world would remain unforgiven.

A single seed will never stop being just a single seed until it is dropped into the earth and covered with soil: the seed has to be buried; it has to be positioned to die with the purpose of reproducing life. Before long, the seed’s outer shell breaks, and a little green sprout begins to push its way up through the soil, until eventually it breaks through into the sunshine. The seed itself disappears as a stalk of grain grows. The head of the wheat holds dozens of grains that could each grow into a plant of its own. From one grain of wheat, a person could eventually plant a million acres of wheat.

Jesus was teaching that as long as the grain remains alone—unplanted and unyielded—it cannot bear fruit. He was describing, of course, what was about to happen to him: his crucifixion and his resurrection. As long as Jesus remained alive, a few people might be healed, a few might benefit from his miracles, a few might turn to God by his teaching and preaching, but ultimately, the world would remain unforgiven.

Before his life could be extended and multiplied, Jesus had to die, and he was willing to die. In turn, he calls upon each of us to take up our cross—sacrificially dying to ourselves and giving ourselves to his cause—in order that we might live for him and according to his purposes.

We must be willing to die to our affections, dreams, desires, ambitions, and goals. We must break ourselves of our intense love of self. We must be totally willing for the Lord Jesus Christ to have his way in our lives. Only then can we truly know life to the fullest and find our purpose in life realized completely. We must die to self in order to become more of ourselves and eternally ourselves.

We’re told to hoard and be safe and seek more security and comfort. But maybe dying to self means not prioritizing this pursuit, and to go the opposite way.

I was trying to be everything to all people. But it was in my own strength, not the power of Christ. In my flesh, I thought I should be there for everyone: an unhealthy burden. I think we often forget that God is most glorified in our weakness.

If I really can’t do something well and I’m totally relying on Him, I can be sure I’m not trying to claim glory or honor or credit for it. So I sometimes think about that nursing home and wonder.

It’s not about how many people admire me or like me or how many friends I have—it’s that I’m made to die to all of that to let Christ live and serve others through me. What positions am I in that will allow this to happen? How can I start the road to one million acres of grains of wheat? How can I give my life away?

Aline: I like that question, “What positions am I in that will allow this to happen?” That makes me think of all the blessings and privileges we have and whether we are using them to help others who have less

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