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20th August: Facts or Feelings

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 (AV)

We all know how our moods fluctuate in the course of a day with the ups and downs our work inevitably brings. We know, too, just how frequently we give in to our fickle feelings, and, as the day ends, dissatisfied and full of self-pity, we realise our innate weakness and our love of self.

The Christian, however, is called to forsake self and to resist rather than indulge in his changeable feelings since they do not reflect the unchangeable character of God. It is not that we can avoid the angry or resentful emotions that boil up within us. Nor can we escape the temptation to gossip, or to give vent to the cynical judgments we pass on everyone but ourselves. We do not ask for or expect immunity from temptation, but rather the ability to resist the self-gratifying emotions. Some may think that it doesn't matter what we feel inside, but how can we ever expect to be trusted in greater things if we fail to be faithful to our Master in little things? God promises that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (Jas 4:7).

Christ remains our prime example; weakened and exhausted by hunger, he met the full force of the devil's temptation in the wilderness, yet fought and won by the power of the word of God. The only one who yielded nothing to the enemy was also the only one to know the full extent of Satan's power. And he to whom angels ministered has sent us his Comforter to strengthen and sustain us. (Jn 14:16). He who daily denies himself will daily find God's unchangeable and inexhaustible resources.

Give up yourself and you will find your real self.
Lose life and you will save it.
Submit to death of your ambitions and favourite wishes
every day and death of your whole body in the end.
Submit every fibre of your being and you will find eternal life.

C S Lewis

Further reading: Mt 4:1-11. Jn 12:24-26.

L-MN

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