What have you lost for the sake of knowing Christ? I asked myself that question this morning as I was reading through Philippians. Listen to Paul’s words:
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ … that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8,10)
“Surpassing value” is a Greek word (also translated as the excellency of knowing Christ) that means to be superior, to stand out or above. It is higher, better. The contrast is in the word “loss,” a word that has the idea of damage caused by violence.
For a practical and graphic example of what it means to lose things for the sake of Christ, Paul uses this same word describing what happened during his voyage to Rome in Acts 27. In the wisdom of God, he warned the captain not to set sail, or loss would occur, both to the cargo and to their lives. The captain stubbornly set sail, and we read later that a great storm occurred that threatened to take the ship down, and all lives with it. In desperation, they lost the cargo and the ship’s tackle, throwing it off the ship in an attempt to lighten the load. Ultimately, God saved everyone’s life and brought them safely to shore.
I’m finding the Christian life to be like that ship. We have to look around us and determine what has less value than knowing Christ and get rid of as quickly as possible. We have to count it as loss before it shipwrecks our faith. What are we holding on to so tightly that it prevents us from experiencing a fuller, richer, knowledge of Christ? Where are we unwilling to die to self that keeps us from being conformed to His death? What suffering do we avoid that prevents us from experiencing the fellowship of His suffering? What part of the new, resurrected life are we missing by our reluctance to let go of some things that are part of the old life?
Do I count my time as loss? Do I spend more time on my own pleasure and entertainment or have I found the greater, surpassing value of time in God’s Word and prayer, deepening the relationship I have with Him?
Do I count my comforts as loss? Do I obey willingly when God presents an opportunity to serve or make excuses that allow me to stay in my comfort zone?
Do I count my finances as loss? Do I give generously, sacrificially, or only out of the abundance God has blessed me with after all my wants and needs are taken care of?
Do I count my reputation as loss? Am I willing to appear foolish because I cling to the cross of Christ or do I avoid letting people know what I really believe? [And do I really believe it if I’m more concerned about saving face than the saving gospel?
I’d like to think that I’d be willing to give up my life for the sake of Christ. I do believe, that if it came down to it, God would give me the courage and grace to choose death over denying. But am I giving up my life right now, in the daily things of walking with Christ? Have I counted all things as loss (Paul says as rubbish) in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ?
One of the principles in the Experiencing God study is that “God pursues a love relationship with us that is real and personal.” If we’re not experiencing that kind of relationship with God, the fault lies with us. Relationships take time. They require sacrifice. If we want to know Christ as He desires to be known, we must count all other things as loss.