A young lady in Philadelphia was enslaved in prostitution and drug abuse for years. When she surrendered her life to Jesus, she started wearing a cross-shaped earring to remind herself she was now a bondslave to Jesus, no longer in slavery to sin.

Publicly carrying a cross in biblical days was the brand of a criminal doomed for execution. Everyone knew he was going to die.

Bearing a cross is symbolic of dying to self. Luke 9:23, 24 says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

There is an old story about a chicken and a pig walking down the road and passing some hungry-looking men. The chicken said to the pig, “Why don’t we give them a breakfast of eggs and ham?” “That’s easy for you to say,” replied the pig. “For you, that’s only a sacrifice but for me it’s total commitment.”

The same is true of Christians—we must literally die to our own desires when we commit our lives to Jesus because He gave His life for us. Jesus said we must bear a cross or we cannot be His disciples. “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27,33).

Taking up our cross daily may not be popular, but it is still the absolute requirement.