Mothers know the principle of selflessness. Mother birds refuse to move off their nest, even in the face of danger. Mother cats or bears will aggressively fight off males when they try to kill their young. Mothers feed their young, even to the neglect of themselves. Human mothers give birth in great pain, wake to feed their babies every two hours, and tirelessly care for their needs for many years. In a very real sense, these mothers die daily to self, so that they may live for the welfare of another.
Paul makes a short but profound statement when he wrote, “I die daily” (I Corinthians 15:31). While Paul refers to a death to self, a literal death is also in view. As God’s apostle of grace, Paul endured many hardships. He lists abundant labors, stripes, imprisonments, and “deaths oft” (II Corinthians 11:23). It is this writer’s conclusion that Paul literally died for the cause of Christ on more than one occasion. His stoning by unbelieving Jewish men and being left for dead is one instance (Acts 14:19). His being “caught up into the third heaven” (I Corinthians 12:2) would be another example. Throughout Paul’s ministry, his life was in constant peril. He believed God had set forth the apostles to be “…appointed to death…for we are made a spectacle unto the world…” (I Corinthians 4:9) and that “…we [apostles] which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (II Corinthians 4:11). When Paul said, “I die daily,” we obviously don’t believe he literally died every day. However, we believe he was in constant jeopardy of death. The secondary application of dying daily is that Paul symbolically put to death the desires and practices of the flesh each day that he might glorify Christ. Like a mother who no longer lives to please herself but lives for her child, Paul now lived, not to please himself, but His Lord. It was in this sense that Paul said he “…crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24), and that he was “…crucified with Christ…and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
It is the duty of every believer to die to self each day and live unto Christ.
In this sense, have you died today?
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