Giving Up | Taking Up

Sarah Small, Head of Eden, shares the first of our Lent reflections on the theme of intersection.

Matthew 16:24-26

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

As I reach the top of the stairs, with my arms full of all the stuff that has accumulated there over the past few days, a trail of excess overflowing behind me, I spot my youngest son teetering on the top step. ‘Catch me!’ he cries and then without a second thought, launches himself off. In that split second, I need to drop everything so I can catch him. 

In this season of Lent we often focus on giving something up, putting down some pleasure or practice so we can better focus on Jesus. Some of us even take up new practices or habits at this time. It can be hard to decide which way to focus, do we empty ourselves, or fill ourselves? Put down things, or pick more up? 

In today’s passage Jesus tells his disciples that if they want to follow him, to enter into all he will enter into, and to ultimately gain eternal life then they need to deny themselves andbe prepared to take up their cross and follow him. They need to drop everything and catch what it is that he’s offering. They can’t do one, and not the other. Without putting down and giving up we are in no position to fully take up what God is calling us into. He is calling us to continuous surrender and continual receiving, not just a season of one or the other. We are to continually empty ourselves, as well as being continually filled by him. 


Lord Jesus would you help us to put down, and take off all that hinders us from embracing the life you have to give us more fully. Help us to be more like you, living in humility, prepared to sacrifice everything in order to live in you.