“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, 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 is through faith in Jesus Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Philippians 3: 7 – 9
I’ve been meditating on these verse for quite some time now, pondering their significance. I want to fathom the meaning in a way that will allow me to apply it where the rubber meets the road in my life, in the nitty gritty of the here and now.
It seems that the Apostle Paul had a ledger with a plus side and a minus side. One side stood for all that was worthwhile. The other side stood for all that truly didn’t matter compared to what was actually important. Amazingly, as he sorted through his life, the plus side of his ledger had one item: knowing Jesus Christ. Everything else, in comparison,ended up on the minus side.
When and how will I come to a place in my life when there is only one thing listed on my gains ledger? When will I realize that everything I ever gained, compared to Jesus was rubbish?
Life has forced losses on me and on my husband. We certainly wouldn’t have chosen them. I was not chosen as assistant head nurse when that position seemed so important to me. My husband never received another position as pastor after he left a church without a call to serve another one. He was a pastor, and not having his own church to serve was like being disconnected from himself. It was excruciating. Yet, according to Paul’s accounting method, these hoped for gains in our lives would really have been rubbish compared to knowing Jesus.
Everything – every loss and every gain – serves the one goal, the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ. For every experience – every heartache and every suffering, as well as every joy and happy gift – is just another opportunity to know Jesus better.
The disciples pulled their boats up on the shore and left everything behind to follow Jesus, to know him, to be with him. They considered all they had gained in life as rubbish compared to the great gain of being students of the Master.
Lord, please let my husband, who I lovingly call “the Count”, keep counting lymphoma as a valuable gift, as an opportunity to get to know Jesus better. Let me keep counting this fight with cancer as a gain, if it helps us be better students of our Teacher, Our Master. Let us pull our boats up on the shore and follow you, in sickness, as well as in health. Let us, as Paul said in Philippians 1:10, share your suffering and become like you in your death. Let us keep saying no to our own will and yes to yours. Amen.