By Rev. J. Loren Russell

Matthew‬ ‭16:24-27‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

You have heard people say, “You know how I am!” as they are about to say something or tell somebody off in a not-so-nice way. I’ve always had a problem trying to reconcile that statement when made by people who call themselves people of “The Way,” Christians, or followers of Christ.

Verses 24-27 from the sixteenth chapter of the book of Matthew follows Jesus’s prediction of His death and His rebuke of the words that Peter spoke. Jesus said they were satanically inspired (vv. 21-23). Peter was a follower of Christ and an eyewitness to the miraculous things He did and the powerful words He spoke, yet he did not understand what was required to be a follower. Jesus tells him and the other disciples assembled the paradox of authentic discipleship; they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and lay down their lives. They must become someone they did not know.

Jesus says that they are to deny themselves. To do that, they must put the interests of God’s kingdom in front of their own. They are to take up their cross, which means that they must reject their self-centered ambitions. They must lose their lives to truly live. Nothing less will do to be an authentic follower of Christ. They must become someone they never knew. When you are willing to surrender yourself, Jesus’ response to Peter’s statement of having left all to follow Him in Mark 10:29-30, tells us the results; “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” The willingness to commit whole-heartedly to the cause of Christ does not diminish who you are. On the contrary, it puts you in line for an abundant blessing in life as well as an eternal home in glory. That does not mean that we will be rich and famous, but it does mean that the Lord will provide for our every need according to His riches and glory (Phil. 4:19). To deny yourself, to take up your cross, to lose your life to become the you that you never knew is liberating; it sets you free!

Nothing is sadder than someone who professes to be a follower but has not surrendered themselves. “You know how I am” has become their personal affirmation. They fight to hold onto their old life because they think the cost of discipleship is too high. Yet every true disciple of Christ has paid that cost and discovered the benefits to be above and beyond anything they could ever ask or think.

When someone says, “You know how I am!” you can be almost certain that they have not denied themselves. Every Christian should have the kingdom of God so far in the forefront of their thinking that they have divested themselves of their personal desires.

Getting to know the me nobody knew liberated me from the shackles of self-gratification and self-indulgence and delivered me to a place of real joy. I implore you to be ready and willing to deny yourself. I plead with you to take up your cross, and I pray that you will commit to finding your life by losing it. I am hoping that you get to know the you that you never knew.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book. eBook available at

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