If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:4-14]
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:11-13]
Paul knew that of all the things in this world that he could have - personal prestige, material goods, knowing all the right people in high places - that those things were not important compared to knowing Jesus Christ as his Lord. If you read through the book of Acts and the letters that he wrote in the Bible, you'll get to know a man who "used to be somebody" before he met Jesus, and who lost everything this world considers precious to follow Him (even his very life!). And he counted all that loss as TOTAL JOY!!
If owning a home, a car, nice clothes, the latest book by the most popular Christian author, really awesome Christian CDs, video games, or anything else gets in the way of the ability to follow Jesus wherever He leads; if being addicted to constant communication with the world, or food, or caffeine, or exercise, or sleep, or entertainment, or (what's your addiction?) hinders a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord; if there is more talk about a car, weight, kids, dreams and aspirations, or life more than talk about the saving, healing, and redemptive power of Jesus Christ; if the iPad, iPhone, iPod and all other gadgets are more dear than the Word of God, then iLack what's important and iNeed to get my priorities straightened out and be willing to get rid of those things. God made me so that I would glorify His name, live in His presence, and proclaim His love to a dying, hurting, wretched world. Anything that gets in the way of that is rubbish.
To many people, our life is strange. They can't figure out why, or how, we do the things we do. It's because we have seen what the mighty hand of a sovereign God can do with and for a couple of 'used to be somebodies' who are willing to count everything else in their lives as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus as Lord. We asked the Lord to strip away everything that was unnecessary to the work He has called us to, and He has been faithful to continually answer that prayer. What we lack in terms of the "American Dream", God more than abundantly makes up for in joy, hope, and love and a deeper faith in Him. And if the Lord asks everything of us, we're willing to give it if it means walking closer to Jesus. Do you think I am lacking in what's important because I don't have a predictable, comfortable, risk-free existence? No, my dear friend. iHave all iNeed when iKeep my eyes fixed on Jesus. :)
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. [2 Corinthians 3:4-6]
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. [Hebrews 12:1-2]
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. [Philippians 2:5-7]
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. [Matthew 16:24-27]
(He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. -Jim Elliot)
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