Back to the Future - Day 3
Lord, my satisfaction and joy come from you. You refine me and draw out my best traits. Thank you for the love you’ve given me. Amen.
Read: Philippians 3:8-9, NIV
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 a Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
It is estimated that Paul, the author of these words, spent 5-6 years in jail over the life of his ministry. He was ultimately martyred for his beliefs. He speaks from a place of great experience when he says he has "lost all things". We can take comfort in the fact that he testifies he has experienced powerful new life in Christ that renders all he has lost inconsequential. In America, we're not likely to encounter the kind of resistance Paul did when it comes to our faith. However, having an active faith in Christ does mean setting down certain things we may find temporary satisfaction in. For example, it means denying ourselves the satisfaction of verbal retaliation when someone wrongs us (Matthew 5:39).
Over the last year, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having several people make false claims about my husband’s character. People speculated amongst themselves that he was jealous, prideful, arrogant, and controlling after he had to make some tough personnel changes at work. Beyond that, they were spreading this misinformation to others. My husband felt it was wrong to tell everyone involved what indiscretions led to these changes because he didn’t want to damage the character of anyone else. In lieu of the facts, the people involved speculated and came up with all kinds of crazy stories that mainly implicated my husband. Though this is nothing compared to being imprisoned for my beliefs, I definitely struggled not to publicly share the whole story and to come to his defense. In the end, the best long term witness to his character (and my own) is just being slow to speak and quick to love those around us. Actively pursuing Christ means being gracious with those we have disagreements with and to quickly reconcile regardless of differences. Following Jesus, no matter where you live or what the context is, is challenging.
Take time to reflect on what you have gained by knowing Christ and being found in him. What good has come from taming your desires for things that have no value in God's kingdom? In my own story, it’s that pursuing God has helped me develop composure, patience, and grace for others. Continuing to grow in faith - a lifelong journey! - can be tiring and, at times, discouraging but meditating on the positive things that come from this journey can help us to keep pressing in.
God, please help me focus on the joy of life found in you. Let my actions and words build up those around me and give glory to you. Amen.