Mark 8:34 34And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] ……..
After we learn to discipline our thought life and the words of our mouth, the last place we must deny ourselves is in our actions. In Colossians 1:10 Paul tells them he never ceases to pray for them so 10That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, [acquaintance, and recognition]. In order to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy to the Lord we have to choose to do what HE wants us to do, rather than what WE want to do.
A specific example that stands out to me is Esther. She, a Jew, was married to the King of Persia, and through a series of events it was decreed that all of the Jews would be killed. Her uncle found out about this horrible plan and sent word to her that she needed to go before the king and find a way to stop the ensuing massacre. She sent a message back to him telling him there was no way she could do that because the law was that if you went before the king uninvited you could be put to death. We will pick up the story in Esther 4: 13-16 13Then Mordecai told them to return this answer to Esther, Do not flatter yourself that you shall escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? 15Then Esther told them to give this answer to Mordecai, 16Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me; and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I also and my maids will fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish. I love what she says at the end- If I perish, I perish. She knew that there was a very good chance that her actions would cause her death. Yet she still denied herself what she would have preferred and did what she knew was the right thing. Ultimately everything worked out for her in the end. She went before the king was welcomed by him and to make a long story short, ended up saving her people. Because she chose to put the interests of God above her own interests, she not only kept herself from being killed but saved the lives of an entire nation.
Sometimes doing what God wants may make us a little uncomfortable. But the reward of our obedience is worth it and often times greater than what we can even think.