What does picking up your cross look like practically speaking for evangelicals? What does picking up your cross mean in every day life?


I’ve read the related questions to this verse

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:38‬ ‭

But the responses are obscure and ambiguous and if applied practically I wouldn’t know what exactly to do. The answers are still relegated to the realm of abstract and conceptual theory.

What is a working definition, or a practical definition, or a practical application for take (up) your cross in the evangelical circles.

Please keep this a serious discussion, don’t include answers like getting married, the spouse being the cross, or being terminally ill, no one willingly takes on terminal illness, especially excruciatingly painful kinds. It needs to make sense to the text.


Or in the same vein, if it won’t be misconstrued as a separate question, crucify the flesh. They both seem to be saying the same thing.

Gal 5:24  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

  • This question is quite clear in nature, regardless of the close vote that believes the opposite to be true.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Mar 10, 2019 at 18:36
  • 1
    Clear enough sure, but too broad and not generalisable enough.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 2:03

2 Answers 2


The Lord Jesus Christ's teaching about taking up our cross is found in Matt 10:38; 16:24; Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23. It is my belief that our Lord was addressing the subject of conversion, not discipleship. Meaning, that Jesus was teaching what was necessary to be saved, not what was required of us after conversion.

Jesus was not saying that we had to be merely willing to make the ultimate sacrifice or even to be a literal martyr upon a literal cross. He was teaching that in order to be saved we must be crucified with Him. Hence, Gal 5:24 does answer how to apply the truth of our conversion to our daily lives.

Paul the apostle does provide us with the understanding. He said in Gal 2:20 'I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.' Paul lived in the powerful truth of having been crucified with Christ and his answer for not fulfilling the desires of the flesh [Gal 5:16] was to 'hear with faith' [Gal. 3:1-5] what had happened to him in his conversion.

Notice Gal 6:14, where Paul says, 'But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.' Paul does not have his own cross that he can boast in, but rather, he only has the cross of Christ. Only the cross of Christ was Paul's answer for how to be an overcomer in this world.

Understanding Jesus' teaching as the application by faith in the all sufficient work of Christ, so that we can say that we have taken up our cross, by being crucified with Him is the only thing that will enable us to follow Him. We need a cross in which we die to sin [Rom 6] and to the Law [Rom 7], by which we are circumcised with a circumcision made without hands [Col. 2:11-15]. No cross of our own will accomplish this. What Jesus taught, Paul the apostle opened up for us.

In like manner, when Jesus says in Matt 10:37, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" - it is about our conversion. Certainly, we are not to literally hate our parents, just as we are not to literally take up a cross, in order to be saved. It is an expression by our Lord that speaks of our need to undergo a fundamental change in our very person. Only our conversion in Christ accomplishes this.

Read my book:'Take Up Your Cross: Our Only Power to Live and Walk by the Spirit'. Visit my site Take Up Your Cross for information.

  • Luk 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. it says daily, so unless you think being saved is a daily thing like discipleship I don’t quite follow your reasoning.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 4:45
  • 1
    The word 'daily' is, I believe, wrongly added to the original text. The Byzantine text does not contain the word 'daily'. The verse following Luke 9:24 shows that this cannot be a daily emphasis. 'For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.' If we are to take up our cross daily how can this be applied? Who shall save his life one day to then lose it the next, then lose his life the next day? Jesus is speaking in these verses of the singular story of a man's life, not something that can vary from day to day. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 4:52

First point; evangelicals "pick up their cross" to follow Jesus exactly the same way as all Christians are to do. There is absolutely no need to differentiate evangelical Christians from all other Christians unless you have some evidence to present that non-evangelicals have a distinct interpretation on such a verse.

Second point, I agree with the comment made by Steven L. Hitchcock that there is no warrant for the word 'daily' in any of the three verses where Jesus makes this statement.

Third point, I am happy to go along with your request for a "working definition, or a practical definition, or a practical application for take (up) your cross". I am an evangelical Christian myself, and I recall a lecture given by a professor of the Free Church Bible College in Edinburgh on this very text. He clearly said that the text does not mean enduring some physical suffering or hardship in daily life. He objected to people claiming that their arthritis (or migraines etc) were their personal 'cross' they had to endure. He made the point that it has to be something endured for the sake of now being a disciple of Christ that the text speaks of. Nobody suffers arthritis or migraine because they have become a Christian!

Another point is that, when Jesus said this, he had not yet gone to the cross himself. His disciples, whom he was sending out, were being warned that it was costly to follow Jesus. But the cost was understood by them as being figuratively akin to the shame and horror of Roman crucifixion, with which they were well familiar. In other words, they were not to look for glory and acclaim for being Christians. On the contrary, they could expect shame and suffering. Were they prepared to take that up, for Jesus' sake?

Jesus had just said that their love for him had to surpass natural affection for family, so they might well grasp that, in the next breath, to take up their cross to follow him could actually cause their family to despise them. Would they be prepared to endure that in order to keep following Christ? Many Christians have had some, if not all of their family reject them after they became Christ's followers. That has not stopped them following. Indeed, some folk in the Free Church use the phrase of a new Christian, "Oh, he (or she) has started following."

The simple application of what Jesus said is that, no matter what shame, disgrace or hatred comes to a follower of Jesus, they will grasp that as 'par for the course', to put it in modern terms. They will not shrink from any of that but identify with it as the cost of being a follower of Jesus.

First century Christians were later told in epistles to their new congregations that "the preaching of the cross [Christ's cross, that is] is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" 1 Corinthians 1:18. Christians embrace the power of God - they embrace the cross - they identify with it, and with whatever personal affliction comes to them because they bear the name of Christ. They know that God blotted out the condemnation to sinners, taking "it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it" Colossians 2:14-15. Post-resurrection of Christ, believers saw the cross of Christ in that glorious light. No longer was it a defeat, a shame, a horror - in light of Christ's resurrection, it was the power of God unto salvation!

This highlights the second (and probably the most important) sense in which Christians pick up their cross. They proclaim the good news of what the cross of Christ achieved for sinners - their liberation from slavery to sin when they repent and embrace Christ's finished work on the cross. This is gospel, the good news, the evangel. And that is one sense in which evangelical Christians may take the meaning of Matthew 10:38 more boldly than do those who shrink from being called "Evangelical" Christians. To publicly proclaim the cross of Christ as the power of God unto salvation is to identify with the cross personally. That means testifying to how the cross of Christ smashed the chains of one's own slavery to sin. Maybe Evangelical Christians are more prone to do that than are Christians who don't care to be identified as 'Evangelical'. I don't know. I simply express this answer as a Christian who has been proud to identify with the cross of Christ for over four decades now, not being embarrassed at being labelled 'Evangelical'. That's fine by me!

  • I differentiate because I’ve been asked several times in previous questions. The question has already been flagged as being too broad, had it been open to all then it might have been closed down already.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 18:44
  • Yes, I appreciate the need to differentiate even though I find it exasperating, myself much of the time. Artificial distinctions can be maintained because of that requirement. But that's the way the system operates!
    – Anne
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 20:20

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