Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.Matthew 16:24(NASB)
Though Matthew was written predominantly to call Israel as a nation to repent (to turn away from spiritual adultery and in so doing to turn TO their promised Messiah), much was written to instruct Christ's own disciples and to bring them to an understanding of who the Messiah was, what the Messiah came to do, and how believing on the Messiah and following after Him would affect their own lives.
Though Matthew was written predominantly to call Israel as a nation to repent, there is important application to each Church-age believer, and especially to those who would choose to become a disciple of Christ, one that would really get to know Him, to learn of Him, and to follow after Him, which all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus would do well to heed.
Jesus explained that a true disciple not only believes in Him for salvation and the forgiveness of sins, but also trusts Him to break the power of sin in their lives by denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following after Him.
To deny yourself is not the giving up of things but the giving up of yourself wholly and completely to the Lord Jesus. To deny yourself and take up your cross has nothing to do with the daily burdens you carry or problems you may have to face. It is to live for Christ and to fully identify with every aspect of His rejection, shame, suffering, and death.
But never forget that the suffering we bear for our Saviour will one day lead to glory. Let us choose to live each day for Christ, knowing that since we have been crucified with Christ: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
Heavenly Father, I want to deny myself, take up my cross daily, and identify with my Saviour. Help me not to live for myself but rather to live for You. Help me lose my life for Your sake, knowing that this world holds nothing of value but that to follow You will result in the greatest reward. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.