Does God love us more when we deny ourselves chocolate? Or raspberry ice cream? Or long, delicious afternoons in the backyard hammock?
Ask some people of faith, and they’ll say “Yes”—and quote Jesus as the proof: “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.”
But this is the same Jesus who went to weddings and banquets, laughed easily and often, spent afternoons playing with children, and frequently withdrew from the hectic pace of serving others to be renewed by peace and prayer and greenery.
What needs denying—every day, in every way—isn’t the rightful enjoyment of life in the body for which we were created. It’s the ultimately ungodly idea that we can save ourselves, redeem ourselves, or work our way back into God’s favor by things we do—or don’t. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
Grace is all about deeper, joyful living. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:9). That fuller life awaits you. Claim it now.
And stay in grace. -Bill Knott
“I’m sorry for the tears,” he says with obvious embarrassment. “It’s just that I miss her so much.” He shields his eyes like the toddler he was 60 years ago, perhaps again imagining he can’t been seen behind his hands.
We have it as a social rule that anything so personal as tears must stay discreetly out of sight. Others feel uncomfortable, we think, imagining that even those who know us well expect us to be dry-eyed in the face of loss.
But tears and all that causes them are proof of life—of being fully human, blessed—yes blessed—with deep capacity to care, to feel, to love, to cherish. Our losses are no less a part of us than all our victories. Those who truly love us never struggle when we weep.
The shortest verse in all the Bible—“Jesus wept” (Jn 11:35)—gives us the longest view of who He is. “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do” (Heb 4:15). The prophet called Him a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with our grief” (Isa 53:3). He doesn’t only preach from mountaintops. He sits with those who grieve; holds those who weep; heals those who hurt.
Grace is for all moments—good and bad, happy and sad, celebrating or grieving. “I am with you always,” Jesus says, “even to the end of the world” (Matt 28:20).
Accept the company of One who never was afraid of tears. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott