Taking What Christ Gives

Phil 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 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 9 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. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I read a story about a man who had worked hard in this life and had amassed treasures upon this earth that he felt he could not live without.  Now this man had accepted Christ as His savior as a child, and he had done his part to help his church grow—he attended services faithfully and he paid his tithe.  He was a faithful Christian, but he never really understood holiness.  However, because Christ paid his sin debt when the man died he went straight to heaven, treasures in tow.

When the man approached the gate, just outside was a mountain of things that were precious become comparison.  The man could not understand why all of these wonderful things were piled outside the gates of heaven.  Who would leave their treasures there?

Just then St. Peter appeared and the man asked about the pile just outside the gates. St. Peter replied that those were the treasures that people thought they could not live without.  “Then why are they piled up here like junk?”

St. Peter opened the gates of heaven and the man finally understood.  Just a glimpse and he knew his treasures on earth were junk in heaven.  He added his treasures to the pile and entered heaven.

Paul got it.  He was a Roman citizen and had been one of the chief persecutors of the Christian church.  He was there when Stephen was stoned to death.  He had material treasures and he had position and authority.  Yet, here he tells us he counts all of those things as loss for the sake of Jesus Christ. Paul had gone from trying to buy righteousness through his works to understanding that righteousness is a faith thing and can only be received through grace.

And here is the most amazing part.  Paul says he has not yet attained the knowledge of Christ in His resurrection power, but he is committed to pressing onward to take what Jesus gave him.  Did you get that?  We have to take what Jesus offers.  And then Paul says he forgets what has gone before—the treasures, awards, accolades, and yes, even the suffering he caused, to take hold of the heavenly prize.

Paul is describing here the process of seeking holiness.  We forget what has gone before, keeping our eyes on Jesus and the prize before us.  Holiness cannot be attained unless we seek it, long for it, live it.

PRAYER: Father God, help us to not look back to the way things were, whether good or bad, but help us to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, walking the pathway of holiness until we reach our journey’s end.  Amen

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