If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.                                                      — Luke 9:23

Everywhere in the blogosphere I turn this week I’ve read about finding my one word for 2014. It’s been the topic of many a post that’s made its way to my inbox. One even had a link to the One Word movement’s website (who knew?).

I recognize that I’m not the most up-to-date gal out there, but I had no idea this was such a big thing. I’ve often heard people speak about having a focus Bible verse for the year or a particular area to work on. But labeling a year with one word is new to me.

So, I began to look over last year and see if I could determine what one word would sufficiently fit 2013. When I started the year, I probably would have said “focus.” And much of what I learned over the next twelve months did direct me to keep my focus on the Lord and not circumstances.

Looking back now, though, the one word I believe best describes 2013 would be GRACE. My, how we were blessed with God’s magnificent grace! The year was filled with miracles, loving support, unexpected provision, amazing peace and joy, and a whole host of other blessings brought about by the sweet love of God. He taught me to trust in His grace as the all-sufficient conduit for our every need.

Of course, 2013 is behind us, and we are indeed grateful for all those blessings. Now it is time to look ahead to 2014.

I suppose I could have picked anything to focus on this year. But I wanted it to be God’s choice. (He knows me best!) Through prayer, it became pretty clear what I needed to work on: denying self, sacrifice, humility, and love. Four separate things, and yet, they are interrelated.

Denying self is a form of sacrifice, and doing it for the sake of the Lord and others is a form of love and humility.

The Lord keeps impressing on my mind Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Deny Self

I’ll admit it…I don’t like to deny myself. In a former post I shared about my tendency to be self-centered and give in to the things I desire. I like living in my comfort zone. God knows me so well! But a self-centered life is not a Christ-centered life. And I need to learn some lessons.

Compelled to find just one word based on those four things, I believe I have discovered a word that just might fit: SELFLESS. It might not mean those four things to anyone else, but it is a way for me to remember in one tight little word what I should strive for each day of this year.

SELFLESS…to deny my wants over the needs and wants of others

SELFLESS…to sacrifice whenever God places opportunities of ministry before me

SELFLESS…to humbly submit to my Lord in every way

SELFLESS…to not think of myself more highly than I ought

SELFLESS…to go out of my way to show love to others

SELFLESS…to obey God and trust my life to His control

SELFLESS…to love the Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength


You know what? I completely forgot about it on New Year’s Day. I did! I was completely engrossed in having a quiet holiday and doing whatever I wanted to do. Oops. (Forgive me, Lord.)

I’m afraid that’s often how it is with me. I pray and strive to see what God wants me to do, and just as soon as I get my answer, I forget. I keep doing what I’ve always done.

But praise be to God! The Bible tells us His compassions are new every morning: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Lamentations 3.22-23

Therefore, today is a start-fresh day. And this is the day God has called me to.  I must focus on denying myself and loving others in humility each and every day. Otherwise, I will get sidetracked, and this time next year SELFLESS won’t describe my year at all.

So, that’s my one word for this year—SELFLESS.

What’s yours?


Post images by Sabra Penley

Scripture from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984



Filed under Humility, Lessons, Love, Sacrifice, Self

12 responses to “Selfless

  1. Mike Cummins

    Thank you Sabre for this encouragement and blessing!


  2. I’ve seen the same thing in social media as well Sabra. And I wasn’t going to pick a work (just like I am not doing resolutions-see my last blog post, haha) however as I pondered the idea, I realize I already have my word for 2014. It came to me naturally in December of 2013. The word is: REST. I will rest in the Lord and his plans for me. And by this I mean I will try to listen and learn. Instead of forging ahead and worrying about my plans for my life and how everything will turn out, I will stop, listen and learn. I will try to move forward slowly and carefully and try not to worry about where he is taking me but instead focus on going where he wants me to go. 🙂 Great post!


    • What a great word! REST. I always tend to associate doing nothing with resting. But your definition is wonderful: Stop. Listen. Learn. We first must make time to rest in the Lord. Then we can listen, and He will teach us what we need to learn. Thanks so much for sharing.


  3. So true, Sabra! I too was surprised to see how many were finding a focus word for the new year. I love yours!! My word for this year is PORTION from Psalms 73:26. Wanting to give up trying to do everything in my own strength. Super post, thank you for sharing!


  4. klanders2013

    Thanks for the encouragement, Sabra! I really like the line where you said, “to sacrifice whenever God places opportunities of ministry before me”. I like the idea of thinking of ministry as an opportunity. I am becoming more involved in ministry and I know I need to continue to see it all as an opportunity and a sacrifice that I am making for God. Oh, and check out She is encouraging others to write an encouragment post every Wednesday that she will link from her blog. Just an FYI to a fellow COMPEL member. God Bless! Katie


    • Thanks for your comment, Katie. Sacrifice is not something I embrace too often. God is working on me, though. Thanks for the link to Holley’s blog. I’ll definitely check it out. Blessings to you!


  5. joiemccutchen

    “Grace” was definitely the word for 2013 for me too! I’m putting together a devotional about grace now for a speaking engagement I’m doing on the 20th. God’s grace, and the grace we can give to one another is SO powerful….


    • Thanks for sharing, Joie. I hope to read from your grace devotional on your blog. Praying God will give you insight and understanding into His wonderful grace as you prepare to speak.


  6. joiemccutchen

    Thank you so much!


  7. Pingback: Love or Nothing? | Simply.

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