Summary: We are called to let go of our self. This is a sermon on Lordship.
Let Go of Self
I heard a story about a group that went white water rafting on a particularly dangerous stretch of river. The raft came to a spot known as “the hole,” where a powerful whirlpool threatened to spin and spill the raft. Sure enough the raft overturned and everyone inside was sucked down by the current. One woman clung tightly to the raft, frantically trying to keep her head above water. What she did not realize was that by doing so she was also in danger of being dragged underneath the raft by the current and smothered by the very thing she was attempting to use to save her life. Her friends, who had let go of the raft made their way to the security of a nearby rock, they pleaded with her to let go of the raft and let the current and her life jacket do the work. At first she was unwilling to do so. Finally, she decided to let go, she released her grip and disappeared under the water. A few moments later she popped up further down the river and was pulled to safety.
Letting go can be a very difficult thing. When we let go we become vulnerable. Many people refuse to let go of things in their life because they are afraid of doing so. Whether it be a sin, some negative trait, bitterness, pride or worry we are often reluctant to simply let go. Sometimes we feel much safer holding on, but we do not realize, like the woman holding onto the raft that the thing we are holding onto is a great danger to us. I am reminded of the story of when the disciples were out at sea and a great storm came. The Bible tells us that the disciples were afraid, they feared for their lives. At that moment they became even more afraid because they saw what looked to them like a ghost walking out on the water towards them. As the figure drew closer they saw that it was not a ghost, but it was in fact Jesus. Then Peter asked the Lord to allow him to come to him on the water. Peter climbed out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus. Peter is often criticized for his over-zealous moments, but Peter had the faith to let go of the comfort of the boat and come to Jesus.
We all have our boats. We have those things we are clinging to and refuse to let go of, however before we can get to Jesus we must let go. What is it today that is holding you back from letting go? Is it fear of the unknown? Is it a fear of what others may think of you? Perhaps some never change because they don’t want others to think less of them. Is it an unwillingness to change? Is it your pride?
I have saved the most important thing that we ought to let go of for last. I believe this encompasses everything and I believe we will see the importance of it as we go along. I want to call us this morning to let go of ourselves. This morning I am asking that we all die to ourselves. Yes, I hope you all die this morning! All throughout the book of Acts we see what God can do with people who have died to themselves. Jesus taught that anyone who wants to save his life must first lose it. Is this saying that each of us must die for our faith? Not necessarily. I believe that before Christ can reign in our lives we must step down. Before we can find true life, we must deny ourselves.
This morning’s message is a question of Lordship. Who is Lord of your life? Perhaps we know the textbook answer. Perhaps we would all say that Jesus is Lord of our lives, but if He really is we must die to ourselves. If Jesus is Lord then that means that we are not Lord of our own lives.
Text: Matthew 16:24-26
I. What Does It Mean to Let Go Of Self?
An old farmer frequently described his Christian experience by saying, “Well, I’m not making much progress, but I am established.” One spring while he was hauling some logs his wagon wheels stuck down to the axles in mud. Try as he would he could not get the wheels out of the mud. Defeated he sat a top of the logs viewing the dismal situation. Not long afterwards a neighbor happened to pass by and said to the farmer, “Well, I see you aren’t making much progress, but you must be content because you sure are established.”
Letting go of self is more than just being well established. I believe we have many like that in the church today. There are many who are very well established, they have been there for years, but they are not growing. There are many in the church who refuse to let go of self and take up their cross. I believe the reasoning for that is that many people do not know what it means to deny ourselves and take up our own cross.