I want my life to count. We can either go through life letting it happen or we can make life happen. I want my life to count for the glory of God. Philippians 3:9b, 10 “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.” Paul, the greatest evangelist in history, longed to “know Him and the power of His resurrection,” and if Paul needed and longed for a deeper relationship with God how much more must I need a deeper relationship with Him?
In Philippians 3:5, 6 Paul lists a series of reasons that he has to boast or be confident in, but in verse 7 he makes the bold statement, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Whatever this list contained it was worth nothing to Paul in relationship to knowing Jesus. David Platt calls these things Paul had achieved or been born into but are accounted as nothing by him as “treasures of the wasted life.”
Paul says he was, “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin (v. 5). He is letting his readers know that he was a true born Jew, circumcised on the eighth day, and can even brag that he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul could have pride and confidence in his family history and in regards to the people he belonged to and the accomplishments of his people, but they meant nothing to him and he only counts them as loss “for the sake of Christ.”
Has your family become such an important part of your life that Jesus has to come second? This is difficult for us to answer because most of us reading this blog have loved ones that we cherish with all our hearts, but that is exactly the point, do we cherish Jesus with even a greater love?
Paul could also boast of his social status. He was of the tribe of Benjamin and they produced the first king of Israel, King Saul. Paul’s name before he was named Paul was Saul and could possibly have been named after that first great king. They were the tribe along with Judah that stayed true to the Davidic monarchy when the ten northern kingdoms broke away to form Israel.
The tribe of Benjamin owned the land around Jerusalem, and was prosperous and influential throughout the lands of Palestine. They were what we would call the hierarchy of Judaism. But Paul rejected this social status as of no importance because he could only “count it loss for the sake of Christ.” Jesus came first over family history, relationships and social status.
Paul also stated in his list of blessings that he was, “a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee” (v. 5). It was no small matter to become a Pharisee in the time of Jesus. Only a handful of young men would be selected for training and many of them would never make it because of the rigid code of study and ethical living. At the least, most had to have memorized the first five books of the Bible and live in constant obedience to all the rules and regulations of the covenant. Paul was a man with an amazing amount of Biblical knowledge and understanding but it meant nothing to him in respect to knowing Jesus.
He was a man who was filled with zeal for his faith, “As to zeal a persecutor of the church” (v. 6). Paul didn’t ride the bench of Judaism, instead he was a leader who was there at the stoning of Stephen and hunted Christians down wherever he could find them. His zeal for the laws and rituals of Judaism were exemplary, but even all his zeal, misplaced as it was, was nothing to Paul in comparison to knowing Jesus.
Paul could also boast that he was a moral man who stood blameless before the law of God (v. 6) and the Jewish nation. He could walk with his head up knowing he lived an ethical and moral life that could be changed by no one. But once again he counted it as nothing when compared to the privilege of knowing Jesus as a personal savior.
How many of us, as Christians, hang on to the very things in our lives that Paul counted “as loss for the sake of Christ?” We pat ourselves on the back that we are moral people, ethical people, well-respected people, good church people, spiritual leaders zealous for our church and have favor with those around us because of our family connections. We think our life counts because of these qualities, but Paul had all this and counted it nothing.
It is radical to say we want our lives to count because if we are really serious about it we will see our world turned upside down. But isn’t that exactly what happened on Pentecost? These were men and women who saw their lives turned totally around, with new priorities, new vision and new desires.
As we grow older do we really want to think that we spent our lives sitting in church each week looking at the back of someone’s head, listening to a sermon and then going back to the same old routine of work, watch television and dream of weekends. Or do we long for something greater? Are we ready to open our arms wide and pray, “God your will be done in my life. You lead. You show me the way you would have me go and I will walk in your paths.” That is radical.
I’m not saying you and I have to pack up and move to China or become Bible smugglers in Pakistan, but we can make our lives count by praying for our neighborhoods, speaking to the neighbors about Christ and becoming bold for the gospel with co-workers. Do you know that in North America it takes 100 Christians to see one new convert? That is pathetic for a nation of Christians, mass media and multi-million dollar churches. Why can’t we say “God I will work in the harvest and I will pray that this year you will lead me to one person who longs to experience a new life?”
I wonder if our problems in North America with evangelism and sharing our faith is that so many potential non-Christians see us and evaluate our lives and come away thinking we have nothing to offer because we are so indifferent about our faith? Instead of seeing people who want their lives to matter when it comes to the lost, they just see our “treasures of a wasted life”.
* Please pray for the persecuted Christians around the world – they need our support as brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/