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Years ago, I asked my fiancĂ©’s father if I could marry his daughter. Before he would give me an answer, he tested me with an old question: “If you were in a boat with your mother and my daughter and the boat started to sink, if you could save only one, which one would you save?” My answer: “I would save your daughter!” I passed the test and he gave his approval. In Matthew 10, we learn from Jesus about a different kind of loyalty test. He tested His would-be disciples. Jesus said, “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Taking up one’s cross to follow Jesus is far more than wearing a cross-shaped necklace or lapel pin. For some, it may mean suffering the disgrace of openly identifying with Jesus Christ. The cross symbolizes loyalty to Jesus Christ despite the consequences. The cross invites shame and reproach. It many mean giving up life’s rewards of pleasure, popularity, power, and financial security. Jesus promised that those who love and serve Him like this would find a fulfilled life–both here and hereafter.

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