For instance, if there were no results from working out why would anyone endure the pain of weightlifting and cardio?
If we didn’t hope for a financially secure future, why would we try to save money?
It would be a bummer to spend years studying without ever earning a degree, and few people would pay the price to invest in relationships if they weren’t expecting to make a friend along the way.
Sometimes in Christianity we only focus on half of the equation.
In Mark 8:34 Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” We Christians tend to take those words and fixate on the denial part without considering the rewards of the following part.
In Philippians 3:8 Paul said that gaining the knowledge of Jesus Christ made everything else “worthless” by comparison.
Instead of telling people, “I’m so sorry, but as a Christian you can’t do this or that,” we should say, “There is no area of worshipful self-denial that will fail to produce vastly greater rewards than whatever you have had to surrender along the way.”
In other words we’re not just saying “no” to things we wish we could do, we are saying “yes” to something far superior, namely an increased infilling of the Holy Spirit and a rising awareness of the Lord’s presence in our lives.
Self-denial is never fun—just ask an Olympic athlete who has sacrificed much in their training. However, standing atop the victor’s stand, proudly displaying a colorful medal, that same athlete would say that the glory of victory far eclipsed the pain of their denial.