But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. ( Philippians 3: 7-11)
It is a very human tendency to make comparisons. Often, we weigh ourselves against various people in the Bible and decide that they were somehow exceptional, that few of us can achieve that level of faith, or be that spiritual, or pray the kind of prayers that release miracles.
In doing so, we miss two of the most important ‘facts’ revealed to us through the Word of God, and we limit our own growth and the potential that God sees in each one of us.
The first fact is that God generally used the most unlikely people to do great things. Take Moses, for example. God didn’t use Pharoah’s adopted grandson. He used the murderer who fled to the desert and cooled his heels taking care of the goats for a good forty odd years. During that time, God shaped him to be the man he needed for the job. Then look at Paul. God didn’t use the wealthy, well-connected and erudite Pharisee. First, He blinded the arrogant Saul – most likely to strip the root of his arrogance and help him towards humility – and then sent him off to seclusion for three years. In raising them up to be ‘mighty men,’ God first had to bring them down to the place where they were the ‘unlikely men.’
The second fact is that, if we look really hard at the lives of all the ‘greats’ in the Bible, one singular attitude emerges in all of them. They were totally sold out for God. Their commitment was absolute. Paul sums this up in today’s verses, and I’ve selected the full ‘chunk’ of Scripture rather than a single verse, because it’s impossible to separate them and receive the same understanding.
Simply put, Paul is saying that he has given up everything that might have been considered valuable by worldly standards, because knowing Christ – growing closer to Him, learning to receive and walk in the great gift of righteousness that He purchased on the cross, even enduring suffering in order to do so, and perhaps even death – is the only thing of real value. Christ, and the resurrection to come, which means being with Him in eternity, is the only desire that is worth anything at all.
Being ‘sold out’ for Jesus sounds a little weird and wacky. We’re continually shaped by society and the world to ‘maintain balance,’ to show a kind of ‘spiritual restraint.’ This is not what the Bible teaches at all. Yes, we are told to fellowship in an orderly fashion, but this is specifically related to corporate gatherings where believers were indulging in excesses that made a mockery of worship. At no point anywhere in the Bible does it tell us to limit our commitment to God. Everything and everyone points to a way of life that should be characterised by sold out. Totally, completely, utterly.
I’ve heard it said that this is an unrealistic expectation. Perhaps it is – if we measure ourselves against worldly values. But if we measure ourselves against Jesus, we get a very different picture. Can we honestly say that a God who was willing to set aside the majesty and glory that is rightfully His for our sakes was ‘exercising restraint?’ Not only did He humble Himself to become a man, but He also endured rejection, betrayal, physical abuse – to the point where He was no longer recognizable – gross injustice, total poverty and humiliation, and finally, the most excruciating death imaginable. If this isn’t ‘sold out,’ I don’t know what is.
The sad truth is that life is often too comfortable. I speak from experience. It may be that I was a little more hard-headed than most, but I’ve learned the the truth of these verses the hard way. It was only when virtually every single thing that had value in my life was removed through a long and painful time of tragedy, heartbreak and loss, that I was able to see the simplicity of the truth: without God, without the supreme and perfect sacrifice of Christ and faith in the resurrection, life has no value at all. The things the world has to offer only have relevance when seen from the perspective of the cross and the God who created us to love, worship and fellowship with Him.
We all have a journey to make towards becoming the people that God can and will use. It’s not how smart or well-connected we are, or how learned, or how well-off we are. It’s about how committed we are. How surrendered we’re willing to be. Jesus taught that if we desire to have our lives, we should first lay them down. What we envisage is but the minutest fraction of what God can do – if we let Him. The ultimate truth – one which takes a long time for most of us to accept – is that the more ‘sold-out’ we are to God, the more He is able to do with us.
I love life. I rejoice in each and every single day, the blessings great and small, the joys of fellowship and the challenge of learning and growing and sharing. But the source of my joy is not longer this life, but Him in it, and the knowledge that each day brings me closer to the eternal joy of being with Him forever. Having Him as the source and focus of our joy is what lifts us from the world and into the Kingdom. Being sold out for God isn’t a sacrifice. It’s a transformation, a new perspective. Does it make life ‘easier?’ No, it doesn’t. Life is going to bring trials, troubles and tribulations. But it does bring joy and a peace that passes all understanding.
Lord, help us to relinquish more of the world, day by day. Lead us, through Your infinite grace and through the power of Your Spirit in us, to the place where You become the total focus of everything we say or do. Teach us to know Your truth, the only truth that brings joy and peace, that we can rejoice in each day that brings us closer to You.
Taken from truthimmutable.com