Sunday with Walter Brueggemann
To Relish the Generosity of God
[To] deny self is taken too often to mean you should have some self-hate, feel bad about yourself, ponder your failure and your guilt, and reject your worth. But that is surely not what Jesus is talking about.
Rather, he is talking about coming to see that God—the generous creator who gives good gifts—is the center of your life and that the self-taken-alone does not have the resources or capacity to make a good life. To deny self means to recognize that I cannot be a self-starter, cannot be self-sufficient, cannot be self-made or self-securing, and that to try to do so will end in isolation and fear and greed and brutality and finally in violence. It will not work because we are not made that way. It will not work even if all the consumer ads tell us to have life for ourselves. You cannot have the life you want that way.
The alternative to self-focus is to move one’s attention away from self to know that our life is safely and well held by God, who loves us more than we love ourselves, to relish the generosity of God and so to be free of the anxieties and needs and hungers of those who are driven by a mistaken, inadequate sense of self. The self who is denied is the self who is received from God and given back to God in obedience and praise.
• A Way other than Our Own: Devotions for Lent, pp. 28-29