What a striking and beautiful example of this have we in the life and labors of the apostle Paul! Does he speak of his ministry?—what a renunciation of self appears! Lost in the greatness and grandeur of his theme, he exclaims—“We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” Again—“Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Does he speak of his gifts and labors? What absence of self! “I am the least of the apostles, that am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace, which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Such was the religion of Paul. His Christianity was a self-denying, self-crucifying, self-renouncing Christianity. “I live, yet not I.” “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I.” Oh what a self-denying spirit was his!
But every truly spiritual man is a self-renouncing man. In the discipline of his own heart, beneath the cross of Jesus, and in the school of trial and temptation, he has been taught in some degree, that if he lives, it is not he that lives, but that it is Christ that lives in him. He tramples upon all his own righteousness, his duties, and doings while he desires to be “careful to maintain good works,” that God in all things might be glorified.
“I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this, that I may die to self, and live wholly to Him.”—C. H. Spurgeon
Adapted from Octavius Winslow