“Christ gives the believer a cross to "take up" before He gives him a crown to wear.
God expects us to keep our hearts pure from the defilement of sin, but with our affections rising to Him: "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meat for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" 2 Timothy 2:21.
God calls His redeemed ones to prepare not only for service but also for suffering: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" Luke 9:23. These words may be called the Christian's contract sealed by the Spirit of God, for everyone who will be Christ's servant must agree to this relationship before he can call Him Master. The main provision the Lord has made for His servants is for them to suffer in peace. Christ has been careful to reach for the hearts of His servants, for it they love Him deeply they will not merely endure hardships in His service but show their readiness in it. Accordingly, God has included passages in Scripture for this very purpose.
Christ asks a saint to take his hands off his own will and give it up to Him. From the day he enters Christ's service he must answer the Savior's call with "I will."
Christ gives the believer a cross to "take up" before He gives him a crown to wear. He intends that Christians not only "bear" it-- for the ungodly manage to do this against their wills-- but to "take it up." Of course He does not mean for us to make our own cross and run headlong into trouble, but He does want us to take up that cross He has made for us. We should not step out of the way by any deceitful shift to escape trouble but accept the burden God has chosen as if He were doing us a favor to let us suffer for Him. No one stoops to pick up something that is worthless; but Christ asks His people to take up the cross the way a person takes up a pearl, which lies on the ground in front of him.Quoted material from, ”The Christian in Complete Armour Daily Readings in Spiritual Warfare” by Gurnall and James S Bell. http://www.moodypublishers.com/pub_productDetail.aspx?id=41823&pid=53617