For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 50

“Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. 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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:1-11

Do you remember the childhood boardgame Wobble Top?  The object was for competing players to try to balance more and more pieces on the wobbling top without making the whole thing come crashing down.  Many of us have unintentionally taken this mindset into our everyday lives, trying to stack one activity and priority onto another until we become so overloaded our whole lives come crashing down!

Have you begun to believe the myth of the “well-balanced life”?  We have this mindset that God wants us to be well-balanced people and that knowing Christ is one of many things which we must add to our lives and keep in balance.  Paul teaches us that Christ is not just one more thing to balance in our already overloaded lives, but rather the weight of His glory should tip the scales in our hearts so that everything comes underneath Him.

The surpassing worth of gaining Christ outweighs everything else. Knowing Christ is greater than gaining or losing everything.  In many parts of our world, a decision to follow Jesus is a call to die.  This call is at the heart of all who choose to follow Jesus.  While the consequences of following Christ may differ, the cost of following Christ is the same.  The Gospel requires that we die to ourselves.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38

What is eternal life worth to you?  What is your soul worth to you?  What are peace, love, joy and forgiveness worth to you?  What is knowing your purpose in life worth to you?  This is what Christ is talking about.  “Is anything worth more than your soul?”  The smart answer to the Master’s question of course is, NO!  Jesus is the only one who can forgive your sins, give you eternal life, offer eternal peace, joy, purpose and meaning. Jesus is the pearl of great price and the treasure found in the field! “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” Matthew 13:44. Would you count everything as loss in order to gain Christ?  If you hold on to the things that are precious to you and reject the things that are precious to God, it will cost you your eternal soul. That’s the exchange. Legendary missionary Jim Elliot famously wrote in his journal before giving his life in mission to God…

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose.” 

Jim Elliot

Many people likely saw Jim Elliot as a fool.  Young, educated, primed for success… why would you “throw your life away” to live and die on the mission field?  If Elliot were here today, he would say, “it is only because I came to understand the surpassing worth of Christ that I was willing to surrender everything to follow His call.”

Consider another bright and dynamic young man from history who believed that knowing Christ was of greater value than success and fame.  Remember the story of Eric “the Flying Scotsman” Liddell who refused to run the 100-meter dash in the 1924 Summer Olympics in order to honor the Sabbath?  Heading into the 1924 Summer Olympics, sprinter Eric Liddell was the fastest man in the world.  Liddell was cruelly criticized by his critics yet held his ground and demonstrated the sincerity of his faith.  Before running in the finals of the 400, which was his worst race, a friend placed a piece of paper into his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30: “Those who honor me I will honor.” Liddell went on to win the Gold medal in the 400 while setting the World Record! Over 50 years later, Chariots of Fire an Oscar winning movie about his life and this race was made in his memory. Liddell went on to pursue his dream of becoming a missionary to China and according to a fellow missionary, Liddell’s last words were, “It’s complete surrender”, in reference to how he had given his life to God.

We demonstrate Christ’s surpassing worth when we live with this resolve-

“If I must choose between Christ and anything else, I will choose Christ.” 

Warren Mainard

Whenever you find yourself at a crossroad in life, only the road to the cross leads to life. 

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