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Christian Union: The Magazine
April 27, 2023

Self-Denial Is At The Heart of Christian Faith


By Matt Bennett, Founder and CEO

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’ – Zechariah 8:20-23 

Christian Leaders Gather Others

Revival theologian Jonathan Edwards identifies Zechariah 8:20-23 as the most descriptive passage on revival in the Bible and centers it in his essay, An Humble Attempt, in order to promote prayer for outpourings of the Spirit.  Notice the earnestness and zeal of the inhabitants who themselves take action to draw close to God and who urge others to join with them. Those seeking revival who fail to deny themselves in order to seek God have little credibility when recruiting others. 

In my ministry, I’ve come across ministers who hold out examples of fervent prayer, fasting, and repentance to inspire others to seek God diligently, yet fail to aspire to the standards themselves!  How can others genuinely believe that seeking God sacrificially makes a difference when the ambassadors for such a lifestyle obviously don’t believe it themselves?

Self-denial is at the heart of the Christian faith, yet the beauty is that we always get more out than what we put it.  The hard-working farmer, the soldier, the athlete all know the value of self-denial and hardwork, and the Christian leader needs to know the same.  By spending much time praying, letting the Spirit bring to mind areas of repentance, fasting, and immersing oneself in the scriptures, Christian leaders gain grace from God to be used by Him for His wonderful purposes.  

The fruit can be seen in the Zechariah passage.  Verse 23 says that ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of the man or woman seeking God wholeheartedly.  The Spirit of God enlivens the hearts of others to make them eager to seek out those going hard after God so that they too may know the living God.  

For all who have denied themselves in order to humble themselves, hear God’s voice, and pray fervently, you can be confident that the Lord has heard and that the Lord will reward you.  He will bless you and stir up those around you with a greater spiritual interest to seek His face.  As the scriptures teach, physical training is of some value, but training in godliness has far greater value because it provides rewards in this life and in the life to come!  

Dear Father, You are glorious, beautiful and wonderful!  May Your Name be glorified in my life and the life of my family, city and nation.  May You receive the glory that rightly belongs to You.  Thank You for Your kindness and mercy.  Amen.

May you be blessed and enriched as a fruit of your labors.