|Image: Skeeze / pixabay.com|
TO CHEW ON: "Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ." Philippians 3:8
Would we, like Paul, have a list of things we've given up to "gain Christ"? Paul once had status as a model Jewish man and a Pharisee. Not just any Pharisee either but one who put hands and feet to his convictions against the upstart Christ-following sect by hunting them down, persecuting and killing them. But the Damascus Road incident took place. Paul met Jesus. Then ".. what things were gain I have counted loss for Christ" - Philippians 3:7.
It's a paradox: gain from loss.
Jesus' teaching had many references to this paradox:
To a rich young man who wanted to be perfect and assured Jesus he had kept the law, Jesus said: " '… go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me' " - Matthew 19:21.
Later in answering His disciples' questions about what He has just said, Jesus said: " ' And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first' " - Matthew 19:29,30.
After Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about dying, Jesus explained to Peter and all the disciples the sobering choice they were making: " 'Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it' " - Mark 8:34,35.
Another time Jesus spoke about position and made this startling claim: " 'If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all' ” - Mark 9:35.
Still another time He taught: " 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain' " - John 12:24,25.
So we see that in his willingness to lose everything for the sake of knowing Christ, Paul was just tapping into the mindset of his Master.
I ask myself, have I done that? Have you? What does it mean to "deny" myself, to "take up my cross," to "save" or "lose" my life, to "hate it" or "love it," to "count all things as loss" in exchange for knowing Christ. Does it have implications for what I do with my money and possessions, my time, relationships, goals, ambitions, the career I choose? I'll be pondering these questions today.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please help me to understand in terms of everyday living, this paradox of gain from loss, and be willing to test it in my life. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.