Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When Profit Becomes Loss

Today is the first day of Lent, that time of year when we approach the celebration of Easter and consider what Christ's resurrection means for our lives. This devotional is one I actually wrote for Lent two years ago, but I think it's worth revisiting.

In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul writes these words: "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 Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
When I read these words, at first it seems easy to just skim over them and not really think about what Paul was actually saying in this passage. We generally don’t like to ponder on what it might mean to consider our profits to be “loss” since our culture is so saturated with ideals of winning, success, and gain. But when I really think about what Paul was actually saying in these few verses, I am overwhelmed by the worship and devotion in his words, and I also find myself wanting to know Christ the way he did that would prompt him to declare his feelings about Christ in these incredibly passionate terms. In the previous verses, Paul has spoken with pride about his supremely Jewish heritage, his zealous devotion to the law, and his “faultless” legalistic righteousness as a Pharisee—characteristics that he obviously greatly valued, some of which he had poured out years of effort to obtain. Nevertheless, in the next few verses he declares that all of those things—no matter what a great profit they might otherwise be—are actually a total loss compared to the amazing wonder of knowing Christ. Paul declares without hesitation that all those things which once had defined him were nothing more than rubbish—a word which, in the original Greek, was actually a vulgar expression implying worthless filth. When I read this, I am amazed that Paul was so willing to equate his supreme heritage and perfectly “righteous” life literally with garbage—because of knowing Jesus and being found in Him, a gain which was surpassingly great.
These verses prompt me to some questions about my relationship with Jesus and my life in general, and I hope they might do the same for you. Would I ever talk about Jesus in these terms? Or about anyone? Who would you or I readily lose all things for, but still consider knowledge of that person to be a life-sustaining profit? Does a saving knowledge of the risen Christ prompt us to gather all the best successes and credits and profits of our lives, worshipfully lay them at the foot of the cross, and still consider ourselves rich? And perhaps most importantly . . . do you and I know Christ, more and more, in such a way that we can increasingly say with Paul that everything else we value pales in comparison to knowing Him? Do we experience the peace, joy, and righteousness of Christ profoundly? So much so that everything which we consider to be to our profit—our jobs and grades and titles and degrees and reputations and money and whatever else—is simply loss in comparison to the surpassing worth of knowing and loving Jesus our Savior?

Paul had the privilege of knowing Christ in this intensely intimate way, and so do we! Through the miracle of the resurrection, each one of us has the privilege of gaining Christ and being found in and by Him. I find myself inspired by Paul’s words to want to know Christ and the daily accessible power of His resurrection in my life—a relationship that is so wonderful that it can make us see everything the world calls “valuable” in a whole new light. This is one of the messages that is on my heart as we approach the Lent and Easter season. As it was for Paul, so may it become for each of us. Jesus is worth it all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?