Philippians 3; Ezekiel 23; Isaiah 51
It’s that time of year where if you haven’t seen any version of “A Christmas Carol,” you just might not be watching TV. According to a meme that’s making the rounds this year, A Christmas Carol is “a heartwarming story of how rich people must be supernaturally scared into sharing.” Obviously, it’s much more than that as Ebenezer Scrooge is forced to confront the person he’s become and compare it who he once was. He also had a real chance, well, as real as it can be in a fictional story, to see the results of his attitudes. It wasn’t so much that he was “Scared into sharing” as he was scared about what the future would hold if he didn’t change his thoughts and attitudes. He realized that money was far less important than relationships with others and decided to use his wealth to improve his relationships.
It’s easy to depend on wealth to get us through life, or so I’m told. Some people live in the past and, especially, their past accomplishments. The man who scored the winning touchdown in the State Championship game, but never played in college will gladly tell the tale of winning the state championship in football. As Paul dealt with attacks on his ministry, he had to remind people who he used to be, and who he was now. “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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 Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.” (Philippians 3:7-9 NIV)
Paul had am amazing religious pedigree among the Jews. When he heard that the Judaizers were telling the Philippians that they had to become Jewish to follow Christ, he flipped out. My guess is that Paul got this news as he was writing his letter. The tone change in chapter 3 is evident when he stopped encouraging and lit into the “evil doers and the dogs.” Then he listed his pedigree, including the fact that he was one of those who persecuted the church. All of that, according to Paul was like garbage. It was nothing compared to the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ. All these accomplishments, all of the time spent in achieving his high place among the Pharisees were wasted, lost, and given up so that Paul could experience the joy of life in Christ. He is righteous before God not on the basis of all of those things that people normally do to gain God’s love, his righteousness is based on faith in Christ.
What do you base your relationship with God on? Do you presume that because of your wealth, God is blessing you real good? Ebenezer Scrooge did, and he found out he was wrong. Would you point to your family and show me your DNA test to prove your superiority? Would you list your academic credentials, or describe the awards received at work? Paul would laugh if you tried to impress him with any of those things. As tools to use in a profession, they have value. As to making a human being great: they’re nothing, they’re rubbish, compared to the amazing joy of knowing Christ Jesus and having a relationship with God based on faith. When we have that relationship, we’re more generous with others, because money as a goal isn’t that important; it becomes a tool to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We tend to be more humble because we realize that all of those things that impress the world are not goals achieved or recognition granted because of our greatness, but opportunities to show the greatness of a relationship with Christ. We shouldn’t need to be scared into sharing what we have and who we are, we should experience joy in letting others know about the greatness of Christ.
Lord, remind me that all I have done and all I have is nothing compared to knowing You. Help me turn that trash into treasure by using things to share Your grace.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.