To deny oneself is not a call to self-rejection, or self-hatred. Rather, it is to replace the desires of self with the will of God, to set aside personal rights and live for the glory of God and the mission of extending His kingdom.
Jesus challenges His listeners to think of long-term effects of their daily choices. Everyone either lives for self, or lives for God. While living for self will have certain benefits, none come close to eternal life with a loving God. And so, Jesus puts His hearers to a fourfold test.
First, what are your present motives? Do you deny the desires for immediate and selfish gratification in order to take up your cross and follow Christ?
Second, what are your future aims? Are you working to avoid death or willing to lose your life for the sake of Christ and the gospel?
Third, where are your eternal values? Is economic success the priority of your life or are you putting the premium upon the worth of the soul?
Fourth, what is your ultimate goal? Is it limited to the horizontal, to earthly status? Or is it vertical, toward the chief end of glorifying God?
Steve @ DCC