Summary: A view of TRUE Spiritual Success. Letting go of the past, embracing the present and trusting the future to God.
Profit and Loss: Gaining His Righteousness for the Loss of Ours
From a pragmatic point of view, my definition of success is doing the very best you can from what you have. Winning medals, titles and even acquiring vast materials and wealth does NOT equal success unless the gain is from the very best honest effort of the winner. One can win the “blue ribbon” and still not be a success. Only you and God know if you are a success.
My son was injured in an accident at the age of four, when he was kicked in the head by a horse. The injury left him with some mental impediments. He is way more of a success than I am and more so than many men of repute. He has always held a job and applied himself to the utmost, whether stocking groceries, maintaining warehouse inventory, or similar employment. Last year, he was approached by the sheriff in his county and asked to apply for a job as a jailer. My son passed all the background checks, ability testing and physical requirements. He IS a success. Materially, he owns his own home and two pickup trucks, lives alone and is a dedicated church going Christian man.
In this reading, Paul shares his journey to success as a Christian and Christian leader.
Paul describes his past life in v 4-6. By all accounts of the day, Paul was a successful Pharisee; keeper of the Jewish law; looked up to as a leader of the Tribe of Benjamin and persecutor of the church. He says based on the law of righteousness, he was faultless. By all accounts a successful Pharisee. See Galatians 1:14.
Next Paul gives us a clear picture of conversion and spiritual success in v 7-11. What Paul is saying here is that he gave it all up to follow Christ. All his power and riches paled in value when held up to “knowing Christ Jesus”. Paul divests his personal righteousness (self-righteousness) for God’s righteousness, gained in the knowledge of the power of the resurrection of Christ.
We soon learn that it is a never-ending journey. In v 12-14, Paul relates his understanding that he has not attained the fullness of Christ but his goal is constant striving with no regard for suffering and persecution barriers that come up before him. Paul again stresses leaving the past, letting go – FORGET IT, keep our eyes on that same goal of attaining the fullness of God’s righteousness as we seek to know and live for Christ.
And so beloved, that is right where we are. We are at these crossroads that can lead us away from our past, from our self-righteousness, from our misplaced adoration and love of materialism and strive forward on the road to success in Christ. See Matthew 6:31-34
We all have a past and completely putting it behind us and forgetting our hurts and failures is IMPOSSIBLE without Christ. More difficult yet is counting as gain, the losses of riches, fame, and false successes. See Luke 4:16-19
I have shared this before but it fits so well here: When I retired as a lieutenant in the police force, I was well fixed. Edna and I had a nice two-story home on the Miami River Canal, three cars and lots of THINGS. I decided to cash in my pension, pay the penalties and buy a restaurant/catering business. However, God had different plans for us. Category 5 Hurricane Andrew wiped our business basically off the map. The insurance was totally inadequate and most of our claims were denied. We wound up with about $13,000 of a more than $300,000 loss.
This event started us on the journey to ministry and new goals for our lives. This journey started on the mission field in the Dominican Republic and has led us here. As for loss and gain. Let me honestly say, we have not regretted one bit of loss and when we had zero resources of our own, God NEVER failed us with His resources. See 2 Corinthians 5:7
So, I ask you, just what is your goal? Paul shares with Timothy: “The High Calling of God in Christ Jesus!” 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
As I close, I feel compelled to remind you, as you pursue this journey, be mindful, be wise. Seek sound doctrine and teachings, avoiding what sounds good and seeking what is good. The only way to do that is “Keep your eyes on Jesus”, not man. See Hebrews 13:3. Just remember that just because a message was/is entertaining and moving doesn’t make it spiritually true. Emotion is fleeting, truth is everlasting.
Let us pray.