Any good gardener knows that beautiful roses require careful pruning. Pieces of living plant have to die. It cannot just grow wild. We cannot simply “celebrate growth.” It is more to be regretted, it is tragic that we seem to have lost the insight that growth in Christ requires careful pruning. Pieces of us by our intentional action need to die if we are to become the person that is in God’s vision. We are not cutting away cancerous growth. Mortification refers to that intentional action of pruning of life that better life might grow by God’s grace—just as better roses grow by God’s grace.
Mortification is the intentional denial of legitimate pleasures in the spirit of Christian poverty that one might become more human. What we have failed to understand is that a life incapable of significant sacrifice is also incapable of courageous action.
— +Urban T. Holmes III, Spirituality for Ministry