Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”Luke 9:23 (NLT)
“Work smarter, not harder.” It’s a saying that I’ve heard from business executives for decades. The idea is that we need to think creatively about the problems a particular business faces to find a solution which doesn’t just add up to more work for people. For example, my friend works for the State of Oregon. She was recently hired to help manage their data, which is kept in Excel spreadsheets. She was given a project to re-sort all of the data in a very large spreadsheet based on a particular criterion found in one of the cells on the spreadsheet itself. Her boss and coworkers thought it would take her weeks to complete the project. It only took her about 10 minutes. How? She did some training in Excel in the past and knew that there is a tool in Excel which allows you to automatically sort data based on a set of criteria. She worked smarter, not harder. Had her coworkers stopped to even Google how to sort data in a spreadsheet, they would have known it was a simple task. Instead, for the past few years, they had been hand sorting everything by copying and pasting cells and rows. (BTW, if none of this makes sense, start learning Excel. It will help you when you get out in the real world. Unless, of course, you’re retired. Then, carry on!)
Unfortunately, we often times don’t take the smart route when it comes to our faith journey. As our verse today states, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” This is Jesus’ way of telling us to live our lives smarter by doing things His way. Why? Well, because He is uber smart, infinitely smarter than you or me. He knows everything about everything. He can see every angle of every situation. And, He always wants the best for each one of us.
So, His way is always going to be the best way to do things. Want joy in your life? Focus on the goodness of Jesus, not the negativity of this world. Want to experience true love? Then give love. Want to experience peace? Stop trying to work harder. You can’t fix the sin that is inside of you or in this world. Want to experience community? Invest in your church – not just pew sitting, but volunteer, serve, give. Want to experience salvation? Surrender your way of doing things and embrace the way of Jesus.
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