Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)
TITLE: Sacrifice Hurts
By Robert Beames
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I admit when I first saw the advertisement for the debut of the reality series called the “The Biggest Loser,” I assumed it was another creative way Hollywood had concocted, to provide yet another avenue which allowed us look down upon others, and to laugh at them. I thought the public would be voting for they one they felt looked the most “like a geek”, acted the most idiotically, or had a glaring character flaw they couldn’t stand. These shows are so wildly popular now as they feed our sinful natures by encouraging us to put others down.
As you probably know, it turned out that this was a contest regarding who could take off the most weight. The one who could lose the most pounds, took home the most dough, so to speak. And now these types of contests seem to have infiltrated our daily culture. Yet, the apostle Paul had an entirely different kind of motivation and an altogether opposite kind of “losing” in mind when he addressed the church at Philippi from his prison cell, most likely in Rome. Paul spoke of himself as being the biggest loser, not for what he had lost physically, in the name of Christ, but much more for what he had lost spiritually, for the sake of Christ.
“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.” (Philippians 3:7-9)
In the verses immediately preceding these, Paul states the things that he used to consider to his credit. He could have easily boasted in his religious zeal, pedigree, education, titles, or affluent circles of association. But he doesn’t. Rather, he acknowledges here, that everything he had previously done in the name of righteousness, as well as, everything he previously was, for the sake of the law, he considers as undesirable as the scraps thrown out to the dogs to eat. Paul uses this strong word only once in his writings (the NIV translates “rubbish” above), and it clearly indicates a strong feeling of disgust, perhaps even as one would consider “dung”, or “manure“.
Paul does not consider his own righteousness, which comes from the law, just a little less valuable than the righteousness which comes from God. No, it is of no worth, even disgusting to him! He was in good company when he said this, for a prophet named Isaiah used similar language many years earlier calling our best efforts, “filthy rags”. (Is 64:6)
He even goes further to include, not just his past efforts, but everything he is, or has, or will accomplish. He considers these to his discredit now, compared to knowing Jesus. It surpasses greatness to know Christ personally! For everyone who wants to become great, knowing Jesus goes much further than this. It exceedingly goes beyond becoming great. Christ gives us the righteousness we could not begin to attain through our faith in Him. When we put our faith in him alone, this perfect, holiness, shining like the sun, is ours! Our imperfect efforts no longer need to support us.
But this is difficult for us, isn’t it? We all want to think that the sacrifices we make each day, the sin we resist, and the efforts we put forth mean something to someone, at least to God, right? How can we consider them as disgusting as manure?
Well, it puts our efforts into perspective, doesn’t it? We have the choice of standing proud on the tops of our dung heaps every day in full view of everyone to see, (and to smell). Or, we can get off from our “piles” of works, which are really mounds of manure, compared to what Christ offers us every day, as we put our faith in the sufficiency of his work on our behalf, and in the faultless righteousness which is now to our credit!
Sacrifice hurts us, and refines us, but it doesn‘t add anything to the perfection we already have in Christ. Only the sacrifice of Jesus did us any good. It did all the good we need.
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