“Then He said to them ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’.”                     Luke 9:23

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”                       1 Corinthians 15:58

I randomly read these verses together today. They are two of my favorite verses in the Bible, but I had never realized just how connected they were to one another. In Luke, Jesus is telling His followers just how difficult things will be at times if you want to truly follow God. You have to literally die to yourself every single day. You have to die to your own selfish desires. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is telling the church to always give everything you’ve got to God.

These verses are essentially saying the same thing, though there is obviously more in Paul’s letter. It reminds you why you should be giving everything to God. It reminds you that God is in control, and He has a plan. That God will use you. You have to be willing to let Him though. Not only do you have to be willing to follow God, you have to stand firm in the fight against sin and all the temptations that so easily knock us down.

I love Luke 9:23 because it as a reminder that following God does not mean that everything is easy. It actually means the exact opposite. The reason I love 1 Corinthians 15:58 though, is that it reminds me that God is working all things for His glory. It reminds me that when I feel like a failure, like my actions don’t mean anything, when I feel like I’m not making a difference: my labor is not in vain.

Following God isn’t easy. You have to die to yourself, to your sins. You have to carry your cross, an instrument of death. You have to be willing to stand firm and not be moved, you have to be willing to give all you’ve got for God. He promises amazing things when you do that though. He promises that it’s not in vain, that He’ll use whatever you give Him. Don’t be discouraged if things are difficult or times are hard. In the good and in the bad, God works through it all.