7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 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 9 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— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:7-11 (ESV)
Nothing trumps “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”. There is nothing on this earth greater, no calling higher, no motive purer, than knowing our Lord and Savior. There is absolutely nothing better.
There is a boldness, a peace, a joy that knowing Jesus brings. This is because – I believe – we begin, in faith, accepting the true definition of reality. The reality of our eternal lives. The reality of who we are. And we are not what the world tells us we are.
At one end of the spectrum lies those who have been built up in ego and stature. The apostle Paul was a Pharisee, a part of the Jewish ruling class, and a legalist. He evidently took great pride in prosecuting Christians, who followed a Better Way than the letter of the law. He was a man blinded to God in his pursuit of legalism.
And the Lord literally blinded Paul to get his attention.
I think of so many high profile Christians who have been built up by people, and who fall.
Before anyone is harsh on any brother or sister, we must remember that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Sin is truly the great equalizer. It is the plague that infects every human – and always has.
At the other end are those who are not so bold, who live in fear – fear of loss, fear of people, fear of life. Life lived under a rock is no life at all.
Here is my point in all this: there is nothing on this earth, good or bad, positive or negative, that is going to have any eternal staying power. At the end of our lives, all the prestige is useless. All the worry is vain. All the financial gain or loss is immaterial.
The things we view as important on this earth – success, career, wealth, status, 3.18 kidlets in a beautiful four bedroom rambler with a nice SUV (well, it was nice until those 3.18 little ones littered it with fast food wrappers and dumped milk on the floor which has left a permanent stink in the carpet) – in the end will be useless.
All of our successes, and all of our failures, stay behind when we leave this earth.
Think about it: if we believe in Jesus Christ, then we believe in eternal life. And if we believe in eternal life, then we realize that this material portion of that life is temporal, and temporary. And that means that all the stuff of this life – money, position, etc. etc. – is ultimately useless. And, therefore, of no eternal value.
So where does that leave us? If all the world has taught us to value in the end has no lasting worth, what do we do? We follow Paul’s example: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:13b-14, ESV).
We see our successes and failures for what they are, and we move on. We refuse to let them take hold of us. Instead, we pursue God. We follow Jesus. We strive to seek His will first and foremost.
Only God – and His Word, His Will, His Ways – is eternal.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – John 1:1-18 (ESV)*
And there it is. This is Truth.
“I am the way, the truth and the life” Jesus said (John 14:6)+. Jesus is the way to eternal reality. Not the stuff that grabs our attention on this earth. It is Jesus. It is the love we share in His name, and what we do with the stuff we have, that matters. It is faith not sight, love not selfish ambition, mercy not harshness, truth not false belief, grace not legalism.
When we begin to follow Christ, we find the folly in our worries and doubts, the guilt in ourselves as we judge others, the freedom to live life in the light of Truth. We see ourselves, and those around us, for who God says we are (which is to say, who we really are).
And we begin practicing the fine art of letting go of the unimportant while pursuing that which has true eternal worth.
*In John 1, the references to John are about John the Baptist, not John the apostle.
+Humorous side note: when I was on an internet search engine checking the verse reference for John 14:16, I began typing “I am the w…” At this point autofill kicked in and gave me several options to choose from. First was “I am the way, the truth and the life.” The second option: “I am the walrus”. I am glad I chose correctly.