Ecclesiastes2:3I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives
What is good for the sons of man to do under heaven? What are we supposed to be doing that we haven’t been doing? Jesus taught us to pray continually, making a way in our lives for a deep rich relationship with the Father. Yet, even the disciples couldn’t completely grasp the concept of this as we see in the garden of Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless F146 I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
So what is good for the sons of man to do with their time? We are to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation. Why does this seem so hard? In the midst of the hardest night of the life of Jesus he is asking us, his disciples
“Can’t you stay awake in the hour of my agony?” What is he truly asking us to do? Does it mean physically staying up? Sometimes it does. Sometimes in the middle of the night the Lord will awaken you to pray. He will bring you revelation in the midst of your times of exhaustion. Most of the time it speaks to being spiritually awake and being aware of those things around you. The Lord will then show you the goodness of a life lived in peace and rest.
Psalm 4:6 There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than in the season that their grain and wine increased. 8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
So then, what does it mean to take up your cross? It actually is an act of faith. It begs the question whether we have the ability to leave the comforts that the world temporarily offers and walk a different path with Christ? This path will be costly both in material things and emotional things. Regarding taking up our cross in the material realm Matthew Henry says:
Every man, according to his ability, must relieve the poor, and be content, when there is occasion, to straiten himself to do it. Worldly wealth is given us, not only as maintenance to bear our charges through this world, according to our place in it, but as talent, to be used and employed for the glory of our great Master in the world, who hath so ordered it, that the poor we should have always with us as his receivers.
To take up our cross is costly. It means that we give up the things of the world in order to obtain the heavenly things that await us. It’s a big price to pay. Are you ready to really do it? Begin by watching and praying.