BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7,8 NLT
It has been observed that religion is spelled, “D-O.” It is based on my actions, my efforts. The focus is on the “good” outweighing the “bad.” The hope is that when the end of life comes that the good I have done and the positive aspects of my character will “tip the scales” in my favor.
In contrast true Christianity is spelled, “D-O-N-E.” I realize that my actions and character regardless of how good versus how bad it not sufficient to atone, or make up for my sin. I don’t need to “make up” for my sin, I need someone to “take away” my sin.
That is what Jesus did on the cross. He lived the life that no one else could. He offered His sinless life for our sinful life and as a result he became the “atoning sacrifice for our sin.” (1 John 2:2) When John the Baptist introduced Jesus he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
As a Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus was well acquainted with the law and what it means to strive to amass a long list of “religious merit badges.” As the Apostle Paul, he reflects on his past life with all of his spiritual credentials.
“I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.” (Philippians 3:5,6 NLT)
But Paul had his eyes opened after he experienced blindness for three days following his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. As a result, we see the change in his understanding and attitude. “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless…”
All of these things that brought Paul recognition and status in the eyes of the religious elite he discovered were of no value and he now looked at them as worthless. Worthless compared to what Christ had “done” for him.
There is no greater test of humility and gratitude than to be willing to accept a gracious gift, especially one that we believed we could acquire through our own efforts. I think of my children and what I have observed in my grandchildren. I recall when one of my grandchildren was doing something with her dad (my son) standing right there. She said, “I want to do it MYSELF.” Soon after being frustrated and tired of her own failed efforts, she humbly looked to daddy and pleaded, “will you help me?”
In the past four years, I have had to learn a lot about receiving help. It is not always easy, but it has made life easier and less frustrating.
This is a great time of the year when we focus on receiving gifts as an expression of love and value, to open our hearts to what Jesus has to offer. He doesn’t help us do what we can’t, He does it for us and we become the beneficiaries. Through Christ’s forgiveness His righteous becomes ours.
Here is what Paul learned, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:9 NLT)
Rest in what Christ has “done” for you.