disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his
life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall
Breaking this truth into fragments for our better understanding, it
would seem that there is within each of us an enemy which we
tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it "life" and "self," or as we would
say, the selflife. Its chief characteristic is its possessiveness: the
words "gain" and "profit" suggest this. To allow this enemy to live
is in the end to lose everything. To repudiate it and give up all for
Christ's sake is to lose nothing at last, but to preserve everything
unto life eternal. And possibly also a hint is given here as to the
only effective way to destroy this foe: it is by the Cross. "Let him
take up his cross and follow me."
The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys
of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones
who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every
external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of
possessing. These are the "poor in spirit." They have reached an
inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common
beggar in the streets of Jerusalem; that is what the word "poor"
as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no
longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke
of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by
surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet
possess all things. "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Let me exhort you to take this seriously. It is not to be understood
as mere Bible teaching to be stored away in the mind along with
an inert mass of other doctrines. It is a marker on the road to
greener pastures, a path chiseled against the steep sides of the
mount of God. We dare not try to by-pass it if we would follow
on in this holy pursuit. We must ascend a step at a time.