Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gain to me, loss for Christ.

Philippians 3:7, 8 But what things were gain to me, Those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
Paul in his letter to those in Philippi, tells them in a very forthright way that all the things that exalted himself, all the things that made him look better or that were a gain to him in any way, he accounted as a loss on Christ's account. Furthermore, that all the things that glorified himself that he had given up, were in his estimation dung, and not something to regret giving up but instead things that he was glad to be rid of. Paul says in another place that we should follow him as he follows Christ, and this would be a good place for us to follow his example. We live in a country and generation and culture that has saturated us in the idea that we deserve to have everything we want exactly when we want it, and they will go to the furthest extant to allow us this luxury. From credit cards to fast food to drive through wedding chapels in Las Vegas, our world makes sure every lust of the eye and lust of the flesh and pride of life is satisfied at the first inkling.
The Christians of our day (at least here in the western part of the world) could use some of Paul's advice, when he said that anything that benefited his ego or lusts, was a loss for the case of Christ. We are so sold on the idea that we have to drive a new car and we have to have a wide screen HD TV and we have to be entertained at all times, that I wonder what we are putting to Christ's account. Now I don't think that it's wrong to have any of those things in and of themselves, but what Paul is asking is what would you have been able to do with that money and time if you had used them for God instead of yourself? I could water that down and ask what would happen if we equally split our resources between ourselves and the things of God? The answer would be an enormous impact on the world. Can you imagine the shock waves that would be felt around the world, if half of the time and money we spend only on our non-essentials, were given to missions or some other gospel based ministry? In a country as rich as America, where billions of dollars a year are spent on entertainment alone, the blessings are unspeakable, the responsibility is then likewise enormous, and we are squandering our responsibility as stewards on a daily basis.
As part of the gimme generation, I know the temptations that bombard us from every outlet are hard to resist, but it comes down to seeing the worth of what Christ did for us on Calvary. Jesus said in Matt. 16:26 that the entire world is not worth as much as a single soul, if Jesus then redeemed our soul that is of such value, why are we not devoted to giving him everything we can? Paul saw the pleasures of the world in such a light that he said they were to him as dung, something that he was not only glad to get rid of, but something he would want to put as far away from him as possible. Why then do we act like we are some sort of heroic martyr when we give up the smallest thing for Christ? We give up a sin that our flesh loves and believe we have done something extraordinary, we put more than a tenth in the offering plate and act as if we have done God a favor, we give up an afternoon in front of the TV to minister to those in a nursing home and imagine we have done some noble act.
Would you join me in working harder each day to count those things as undesirable things that we are glad to be rid of? To try with increased vigor to give more of our resources to the things of God, and to see our salvation as something worthy of everything we have to offer? Not that you'll ever repay the debt Jesus paid on the cross, but out of an overwhelming gratitude that changes our outlook on the things of earth. As the hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote, "Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

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