It is amazing how often Jesus spoke of our need to die to our selfish nature: “Pick up your cross . . . “ “Lay down your life . . . “ “If you lose your life for my sake, you’ll find it . . . “ He even gave us a simple parable about it: “I tell you the truth, 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.” Jesus taught that the one way we could guarantee we would be alone is to refuse to die to our selfish nature, but if we willingly set selfishness aside, we would experience new life.
God wants to kill you….. Not the physical you, but the selfish you. Jesus taught us that if we don’t die to our selfish nature, we will never be able to experience all of the blessings that God wants to bestow on us. Talk about a paradox! Everyone wants to live, but Jesus taught us that the only way we can truly live is if we die. Well, if there was ever an institution designed to kill the selfish you, it’s marriage. In fact, it is virtually impossible to succeed ant marriage if you don’t learn how to let the selfish part of you die.
It is not unusual for me to hear a frustrated spouse cry out, “I feel like I’m dying!” “Yep,” I reply, “you probably are.” The answer, however, is not to fight death to the self, but to embrace it. Remember, Jesus said if the grain of wheat fails to die, it remains alone, and that is precisely what we have today: millions of married people who refuse to die to self and become one with their spouse. The result is a state of profound loneliness. (Let me clarify that I am speaking of dying to selfishness. I am not advocating that one should die emotionally or physically due to neglect or abuse.)
It is hard to die to one’s selfish nature under any circumstance, but this has been exacerbated in our consumerist culture, which screams at you, “You deserve it!” “You’re worth it!” “Reward yourself!” “Indulge yourself!” And the more selfish our world becomes, the higher the divorce rates climb.
Sadly, since the 1960s, millions of children have been raised with no idea of how to sacrifice for other people. Our society has glorified the do what you want ideology to such an extreme that most don’t even understand the concept of selflessness, much less practice it.
Marriage for the Christian is supposed to be on a completely different footing than the what do I get out of this mindset. You must understand that you will never be able to achieve a successful marriage if you stay focused on you and remain selfish. If, however, you are willing to surrender your selfishness, to die to yourself, then true life can begin to grow out of your marriage.