you have it all, it’s hard to give it up. I recently went to an estate auction
where everything had to be sold, not because of death, but because of divorce.
Two million dollars plus was the bottom line. The owner rode his prize show
horse in the ring while the bidders nodded their heads. Though the horse sold
for an amazing one hundred and two thousand dollars, the owner had to quickly
dismount and go into his house where he cried like a baby. It’s one thing to
be forced into giving things up, but quite another to willingly part with that
which has given you joy, consumed the attention of your life, and made you proud.
All that the Apostle Paul had previously lived for, he willingly gave up to
have a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was not because God wanted to rob
him of his joy, but that God wanted to give him a joy that was not built on
the temporal, but the eternal. And when Paul understood the difference, he
willingly gave up that which would not last for that which would not end. His
passionate love for Jesus left him focused on grasping all for which Jesus Christ
had grasped him. His was a life of passion!
MUST GIVE UP WHAT STANDS BETWEEN GOD AND US – 3:4b-7
The religious zealot, Paul, found that his zealous credentials, though noteworthy
among men, were the impenetrable barriers between himself and God. He had
been born in the right family and spent a lifetime of discipline proudly developing
these credentials. Not only was his family proud of him, he was proud of himself.
It would be an unthinkable thought to ever consider giving up that which was
the very center of his life.
what is the cost of giving yourself to that which is less than the most important?
his new book, The Passion Promise, John Avant relates a story coming out of
Desert Storm. The storm was blowing and “Colonel William Post had a job to
do. He was in charge of receiving all of the incoming supplies for the ground
forces. Among these supplies were the tons of food that came in every day.
One day Colonel Post received a message from the Pentagon requesting that he
account for forty cases of missing grape jelly. The colonel sent a soldier
to investigate the mysterious missing jelly; the soldier reported back that
it couldn’t be found. Colonel Post made his report and assumed that would be
the end of it. After all, it was just grape jelly.
He assumed wrong. The Pentagon continued to press him, pointing out that they
needed to close the books for the month, and jelly just couldn’t vanish like
that. Finally they ordered him to find the jelly!
The Colonel had had enough by then and sent back this response: ‘Sirs, you must
decide. I can dispatch the entire army to find your missing jelly or
kick Saddam out of Kuwait, but not both!’ He got no reply” (p. 48).
Paul, realizing he couldn’t have both, gave up the things that were gain to
him that he might have Christ.
What is it that stands between you and a life of passionate love for the Lord
Jesus? It’s really only jelly . . . give it up!
GAIN IN CHRIST WHAT WE CAN’T GAIN IN ANY OTHER WAY – v. 9
When the curtain falls on our lives here on earth, we’ll have to stand before
Holy God. Paul didn’t want to stand before God in the clothing of his own deeds,
but rather in the righteousness of Christ. This righteousness comes not through
earthly achievements, but through faith in the Christ of Calvary. Only in His
righteousness will we experience acceptance with God.
PURSUIT OF CHRIST IS THE LIFESTYLE OF A GRATEFUL BELIEVER – v. 12-14
cannot read this passage seriously without feeling the passion the apostle Paul
has for Jesus Christ. We are not speaking merely about a philosophy of life
here. We are not addressing a code of conduct that can be mimicked to facilitate
a good life. We are hearing the testimony of radical transformation from one
who has moved from fanatical religious idealism to a passionate relationship
with the living Lord. It is a testimony of one who has been delivered from
the stuffiness and bondage of legalism by the power of the God of grace. It
is the victory of deliverance from a life of “meism” to a focus on the One who
is worthy of the total attention of “my soul, my life, my all.”
This focus on Christ, like a magnifying glass, effected a fire of passion that
would drive him to declare, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
This is the passion that is to be normal for every child of God. But oh, how
hard it is to turn loose of the temporal to gain the eternal; to give up the
immediate self-gratification to hear the future “well done” from our Lord; to
die to self to possess the abundant life of Christ.
That which separates high achievers from mediocrity is passion. That which
propels one team ahead of another is not just talent, but passion. And passion
for all that God has planned for you in Christ Jesus will be that which propels
you beyond a life of status quo, failed dreams, and regrets.
The songwriter said it well. “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus!”
Keep pressing forward . . . with passion!
brief provided by: Larry Gilmore, Group Leader of the Evangelism
Strategies Group for the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Brentwood, TN