Does Denying Yourself Mean Living Recklessly?

Sometimes I’m amazed at the things that come out of my mouth. A few days ago, I was discussing altitude sickness with my parents since I was preparing to climb my first 14er. They were warning me about the dangers of altitude sickness and telling me that I should not be afraid to speak up if I start feeling sick. Me, being me, argued, “But the point of life is to take risks!” As soon as it came out of my mouth, I thought, “wait a second . . . that’s not quite right.”100_4174

While many people tend to make the assumption that the most comfortable choice is the right choice to make, I sometimes tend toward the other extreme (I do admit to being a comfort-addict, though). When I am having a hard time making a decision and hearing God then I am quick to make the assumption that the decision that causes me the most discomfort is the right decision to make. This is understandable considering that Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Does that mean that God will always ask us to make decisions that will cause us pain? Not necessarily. Sometimes God asks us to make decisions that will bring us joy.

Another verse that might have influenced me to think that “the point of life is to take risks” is John 12:25: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

I don’t think Jesus means that we should be reckless with our lives for the sake of being reckless. We shouldn’t be overly worried about leaving our comfort zone but there is a fine line between worry and cautious common sense.

Sometimes God asks people to sell all their possessions and go live in a motel. Sometimes God asks people to buy a big house as a place for friends, fellowship and authenticity. There is no magic formula for figuring out God’s will other than simply listening to Him. We can’t be like, “I am going to make this decision because it’s risky and makes me uncomfortable. Look! I’m taking up my cross.”

The point is not to make risky decisions so you feel like you’re being selfless like Jesus. The point is to make the decision that honors God and if it happens to be risky then great but if not that’s ok too. Throughout our lives, we will probably make both types of decisions.

“Hating” your life does not mean not valuing it. If I am alive, I are here for a purpose so I shouldn’t trivialize the potential consequences of altitude sickness, risking my life because I think that’s what Jesus is asking me to do. He actually might be trying to keep me alive to share the Gospel with other people or to simply be the wonderful person He made me to be.

One thing that struck me as I was reading the Old Testament last night was the amazing amount of detail when it comes to lineage and listing the names of who is related to who. Often, when I read such long lists, I get bored but last night I slowed down and took in every name I read, realizing that God loved each one of them. While to me, they are just names on a page, to God they are lovely and valuable human beings.

If God receives glory from my risk-taking then I will take risks but if I am taking risks for any other reason, I shouldn’t be taking those risks at all. I’m not saying I shouldn’t climb 14ers but I definitely shouldn’t climb them recklessly.

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