By Brooke Holt
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:7-10
What are the treasures of your life? For me, my treasures are found in my husband, my children, my dog, our memories, our home, etc. All good and valuable things, each is a gift from God he wants me to enjoy. The Apostle Paul also had his treasures. As a Jew, family would have held quite important place. As a Pharisee, the Torah would have ultimate value -- his studies of the Torah, his incredible understanding of the Jewish life, faith, and practices trumped everything in Paul’s life. These served as the source of his identity. As stated, Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews”.
A curious transition happened as Paul encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. Instead of knowing all about God, Paul came to know God himself through his Son. Through knowing Jesus, Paul came to love and treasure him above all things, even those things he held most sacred before this divine encounter. To convey his passion for Christ, Paul declared all those things, once of most valuable to him before Christ, had become like rubbish to him. This may sound nice and gentle, but Paul is saying these things he once treasured are now like “dung” to him. If you need a visual, dung is what a horse leaves behind as he walks through a field or street.
Paul now has found his treasure in Christ, in his faith in Christ, and in the righteousness that comes to him through Christ. It is not a righteousness he has earned through his studies, his proclamation of the Gospel, or in planting churches. Paul recognizes and declares his righteousness only comes through his faith - a gift Jesus has entrusted to him through Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Instead of pursuing his own righteousness, Paul will rest in this gift of Jesus. That rest did not mean Paul sat around and ate bon bons. Instead, he became zealous for Jesus and for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. Love of Christ, not duty, motivated Paul. Paul knew he had been chosen, marked as Christ’s own, and called to this Gospel work. More importantly, Paul knew he was loved infinitely by Jesus.
That love of Jesus became the ultimate treasure of Paul’s life. It became his driving passion and his ultimate delight. He counted nothing greater in life or death than the love of Christ. What about you? What do you treasure above all things? In what or whom do you find your greatest delight, and do you comprehend that the treasures of this world pale in comparison to who Christ is and to his love for you?
When a lawyer asked Jesus which was the greatest of the commandments, Jesus responded: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). How are you doing with this commandment? Do you know about God or truly know God and "love him with all your heart, soul, and mind"? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Advent is like celebrating a national holiday in a foreign land — like observing the 4th of July as an expatriate. Locals do not understand the fuss. Advent is equal parts cherishing and missing home. AND it’s a mix of loving this world while getting ready to leave it behind. This makes Advent the most human and most complex celebration we have. Isaiah the prophet, David the psalmist, Paul the apostle, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus all lived in one world and longed for the next. They loved this world and loved the world to come even more. In these 28 devotions in Face the Dawn, join them in wearing the paradox of Christianity- this world may be our home, but that world is HOME.
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