Take Up Your Cross

Daily Reform, Day 227

Galatians 3:4 and Mark 8:34-38

From the Reformer

The other danger against which the Apostle warns the Galatians is this: “Have ye suffered so many things in vain?” Paul wants to say: “Consider not only the good start you had and lost, but consider also the many things you have suffered for the sake of the Gospel and for the name of Christ. You have suffered the loss of your possessions, you have borne reproaches, you have passed through many dangers of body and life. You endured much for the name of Christ and you endured it faithfully. But now you have lost everything, the Gospel, faith, and the spiritual benefit of your sufferings for Christ’s sake. What a miserable thing to endure so many afflictions for nothing.”

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

It was quite a sight for a university campus. 40 years ago, I walked around a building onto the quadrangle and saw a man dragging a huge, wooden cross. He had it balanced over his shoulder, hanging on to it with one arm and hand while he held a Bible in his other hand. He would struggle under the weight of the cross a few steps and then preach awhile. Nobody seemed to pay him any mind; I was the only person who stopped to listen. Yet he carried his cross week after week at different locations. I wonder sometimes what happened to him. Does he still proclaim Christ or did the load become too heavy over time? Did he become frustrated because no one seemed to listen or perhaps that no converts resulted from his labors?

It would be no surprise; I have seen many people work hard for the Lord and then quit because their labors did not seem to pay off. That is precisely the issue. It is not our labors that will ever pay. What we do in service for God will never purchase a blessed thing. Christ is the one who hung on the cross that he calls us to carry. It is always he who makes the difference; it is his work on the cross that pays the price.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with Luther in Galatians

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