Plea for Grace

Losing to Gain

Posted on: January 5, 2008

“. . . For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. . .” (Philippians 3:8,9 ESV)

When I stated on my last post that a couple of Scriptures were running through my mind for the coming year, I should have said that many phrases of a couple of Scriptures. . . I guess the continual thinking and wrestling and submitting to Scripture, phrase by phrase is meditation, isn’t it?

I was thinking about Paul’s statement, “I have suffered the loss of all things;” and was thinking about what the apostle had lost.  His position with the Pharisees, certainly; his freedom, which is especially a loss when you remember that Saul of Tarsus, a Jew, was also a Roman citizen, not just a Jew under Roman occupation.  He lost income, time with family, credibility, just to name a few.  So, when I whine about losing my voice and losing my freedom to teach as much as I want anytime I want; when I miss not being able to have a simple conversation in an auditorium filled with people, or even to participate in conversation at a table of 8 or 10 or 12 — God understands, and my “losses” are, in reality, minor inconveniences compared to what the apostle experienced.

All these losses were “counted as rubbish that he may gain Christ” — his status was nothing in comparison with Christ; his freedom was not an issue to Paul; his credibility, his physical health, all unimportant compared with Christ.  That means whether or not I teach needs to be immaterial; whether I stay in bed or can walk miles is unimportant; whether I am a “social butterfly” or a “wallflower” — if I want true freedom and peace, it’s got to be Christ first, Christ only.  It’s just got to be that way!

Just as I was beginning to feel, “oh great, I’m never going to get it!” the impact of the next phrases hit me square between the eyes, as it were “. . . and be found in him [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith . . .”  as long as I make “resolutions” or try to do better or make promises to God that I know I won’t keep a week or a day or an hour from now — as long as that keeps happening, I’m not “in Christ.”  The trying, do-it-better attitude is the righteousness of my own that comes from the law, and it doesn’t work!  That’s the point; trying to be good on my own doesn’t work, because I can’t do it on my own.  It’s totally and completely Christ –any good that I do is from God, my faith to want to do good is from God, it’s all and only from God and for God.  Oh, how I need the saving work of Christ!  Oh, how I cherish His love and His mercy and His grace!

To be in relationship with such a great God — a voice is nothing, health is nothing, fame is nothing, friends are nothing– how could I possibly want to hang on to the control of so little when I can open my hands and receive Christ!

Oh, Father, please help me to remember what I truly have when I forget and want to grab for the “little.”  Give me the desire for You; keep me close and safe in You; fill my mind and heart with You.

 

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