Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

After two previous ones, I recently came across in the Bible what I believe brings a third “cord” to a subject that I believe is extremely important — self-denial.

In fact, it’s a requirement for someone who wants to be a follower of Christ:

Matthew 16:24 – “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Puritan Thomas Manton did an excellent treatise on it, and I recorded it for those who might like to listen to it instead of read it.

If you would, I’d like to bring forth what appear to me to be three important pieces of a life of self-denial.

Loving Your Enemies

Matthew 5:43-44:

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

I did a larger blog post that discusses this more, but the next verse is the following:

Matthew 5:45 – “45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

This shows the children of God do these things.

It has four actions toward those who would do us harm: Love, Bless, Do Good, Pray For — a strong cord of self-denial.

And did not Christ love us in the ultimate way while we were His enemies?

Romans 5:8 – “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Giving to the Abuser

Luke 6:29-30:

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

This to me shows at least in part an emptying of ourselves in relation to the temporal goods God has granted us — another solid cord of self-denial.

Even though someone may abuse us in these things, and indeed be wrong in their actions, this indicates to me we are to deny ourselves and let it go. God knows.

And didn’t Christ empty of Himself for us sinners?

Philippians 2:5-8:

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Washing Judas’ Feet

John 13:1-5:

1. Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;

3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

And it seems clear that Judas was there because after Jesus said some things, John says this about Him:

John 13:21 – “When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Just ponder those moments, when Jesus washed Judas’ feet. Isn’t that quite a scene? He knew what Judas was about to do, and He did it anyway — a very powerful cord of self-denial.

And should we not imitate our Master in this denying of self as well, not necessarily actually washing their feet, but in similar acts of charity [godly love], even though we know someone might not have the best intent toward us?

We are by nature full of pride, but the Lord Jesus showed us the ways of love, humility and service.

May God grant us His graces to be like our blessed Lord Christ Jesus, including in these ways of pride-killing self-denial.

— David