My siblings and I have had the blessing of having our pastor/dad perform our wedding ceremonies, and my uncle, also a veteran minister, preach the sermons. The sermons, now known for their striking illustrations, are memorable. (You can still talk with guests from our wedding about how the carnivorous rat scene from Orwell’s 1984 connects to the gospel.) But this anonymous quote in the sermon for my brother and his bride hit me the hardest:
“When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely opposed, and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, that is dying for self.
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take all in patient, loving silence, that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility and endure it as Jesus endured, that is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any clothing, any interruption by the will of God, that is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown, that is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, that is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no resentment or rebellion rising up in your heart, that is dying to self.
Christian love lays down its life for others.”
[from the archives]