Consistency—the quality of achieving a level of performance which does not vary greatly in quality over time (Oxford Dictionaries).


‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:22–23, ESV).

‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters’ (1 John 3:16).

‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23).


In weeks one and two of our ‘Love in Action’ devotional series, we saw that humankind both receives the love of God and gives the love of God.

Of course, this wonderful reality about being human is not new. It has been the foundation for life on earth for time immemorial. The consistency of this love in action is a feature of the Self-Denial Appeal.

As we noted in week one, the Appeal is now in its 138th year, a testimony in itself to the consistency of The Salvation Army’s enduring commitment to sharing the love of God with those living in some of the most challenging circumstances on earth.

The amazing fact for all who contribute to the Self-Denial Appeal is that we get to support this love in action and all the people it benefits. We are partners in mission with all who serve on the front lines of nations where The Salvation Army is journeying with communities to find solutions to the challenges they face—particularly poverty, being self reliant and able to sustain their own wellbeing.

So it will help us, motivate us, inspire us even, to unpack the history of the Appeal. As The Salvation Army and its mission began to spread around the world in the 1880s, the Army’s leadership was challenged about how it could fund such expansion. The idea of a Self-Denial fund began with Founder William Booth after one of his officers, then Major and later Commissioner John Carleton, said he was prepared to go without his pudding for 12 months and donate the savings towards the Army’s mission.

Booth obviously thought 12 months of practical self-denial was probably over the top, but that one week just might be achievable. So the first concerted effort by Salvationists at raising funds for mission was established on the basis of one week of self-denial. That year, 1886, it was run only in the UK and raised 5,000 pounds, not bad at all for those days.

In time, this yearly commitment became known as the Self-Denial Appeal with funds going to both local and international mission, and conducted worldwide. A letter dated 15 October 1894 reveals that Booth also sought the contribution of those outside The Salvation Army: ‘May I ask you to join with my people in the Self-Denial effort about to be made throughout the world,’ he wrote. ‘During this week, every good Salvationist will deny himself of some pleasant or necessary things, and devote the money saved to the extension of the Kingdom of God and the benefit of the suffering. Will you kindly unite with us in this work?’ (from The Salvation Army archives, United Kingdom and Ireland Territory).

Eventually, the Self-Denial Appeal became an internal appeal only, conducted over several weeks and with funds dedicated to resourcing the mission of The Salvation Army in Developing World nations. Funds for local mission became the focus of external fundraising appeals, like the Red Shield Appeal in Australia and in New Zealand.

To help Salvationists and all who are a part of The Salvation Army consider their Self-Denial giving, a specific challenge arose to give One Week’s Salary On Missionary Service (OWSOMS). Even though each year’s Self-Denial Appeal has a different theme now, this idea continues to be an underlying benchmark for our giving. In a practical and challenging way, it links the biblical concept of self-denial with sacrifice.

Jesus, in his inimitable way with word pictures, said it like this: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 19:23). Using the word ‘daily’ adds the idea of consistency and ongoing devotion. Our giving to God and the mission of God is an act of self-denial (‘deny themselves’), of sacrifice (‘take up their cross’) and of consistency (‘daily’).

At first, this might sound like a hard saying from Jesus—and it is. But when we consider that such giving arises out of the enduring love of God filling our lives and our vision for a better and just world, it makes sense. The hardness of following Jesus is softened and overshadowed by the joy of God’s love surging through us, calling us to action.

‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,’ says Lamentations 3:22–23, ‘his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.’ If that is the extent of God’s love, then it can be expressed powerfully through our Self-Denial giving. It has been that way for over 130 years and Salvationists in more than 130 countries around the world now participate freely and with enduring commitment to sharing the love of God through the Self-Denial Appeal.


  • Spend some time reflecting on the Scripture verses for this week. Consider what it can mean to you to know and share ‘the steadfast love of the Lord’ through the Self-Denial Appeal and what it means for you to ‘deny yourself and take up your cross daily’ and follow Jesus?


O Lord, I admit it is challenging for me to love others in the spirit of self-denial, and to be consistent with the expression of my love for others. I pray that during this time of self-denial, when I’m feeling short on love, you will help me to be an open channel for God’s love—to receiving and giving the gift of your love to the world. It is your love that makes all the difference—in me and through me. Amen.