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Monday-Forgetting and Knowing

 

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

 

Philippians 3:7,8

 

There was a trophy case right next to the front door in the house I grew up in. I was driven to fill it with awards that said First Place. Champion. All Star. You couldn’t come in or leave the house without seeing them. That was no accident. That trophy case was there for more than 60 years. All it did was collect dust for the last 50 years. It served to bring back memories of accomplishments by a son that made his parents proud.

 

But after mom died and dad had to move into assisted living, a decision had to be made. What to do with all those trophies? Dad didn’t have room for any of them in his new place and I wasn’t about to drive them the thousand miles to my house. They were thrown out by a cleaning crew before the house was painted and sold.

 

You see, all those accomplishments just didn’t seem all that important anymore. Being recognized in front of hundreds of people at awards ceremonies had lost its magic. The medals and front-page pictures in the newspapers just didn’t mean all that much anymore. I guess you could say that I’d moved on.

 

And so has Paul. He’s moved on from more than just trophies and medals. Paul made a decision in the past to take all the things that he thought would bring him closer to God and moved them to the loss column. He took the seven things he listed in the prior verse, and anything else he might have tried to get God’s attention, and said that they were nothing. He piled up anything and everything that he thought that might When Paul made them lost, that was it. They were lost for good. There was no getting them back. They were thrown off a bridge. They were sent down the river. It was one great big loss, not a bunch of little losses over time.

 

When Paul says that he wants to know nothing but Christ, he's not talking about knowing in his head. Yes, there are memories. Yes, there were accomplishments. But this is so much more than thoughts and ideas rattling around inside his brain. This kind of knowledge is built on deep and personal experiences. Paul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul had left Jerusalem and was on a mission to find, arrest, and bring back as many Christians as he could[1].

 

This was the beginning of Paul’s intimate companionship and communion with Jesus. Over time, Paul came to know the heart of Jesus in his heart. Paul’s will was changed and shaped by the will of Jesus. His intimate fellowship and close association with Jesus changed him like nothing or anyone else could.

 

And what was the result of Paul’s transformation into a completely sold-out follower and Apostle of Jesus? Was it a big house on a hill with a stunning view of the ocean? Was it God whispering the winning Mega-Millions lottery number or stock tips into Paul’s ear, bringing him immense wealth and prestige? Was he followed by only adoring fans that only gave him positive feedback, praising his name?

 

In a word. No. As a matter of fact it was just the opposite. He escaped in a basket that was lowered over a wall. He was arrested. Beaten. Whipped. Beaten with sticks. Shipwrecked. Stoned. Betrayed. Left for dead[2].

 

When Paul says that he lost everything, he means it. At the end, there was nothing. Or should I say, at the beginning, he gave up everything. When you come to Christ, you bring everything and give it over to him. You don’t hold anything back. You can’t say, “Jesus, I’ll give you this part of my life, but not this. You can have all this other stuff, but this is private.”

 

Paul understood this and explained it by labeling anything and everything of this world as garbage. Now garbage is a nice, safe word. Garbage is not all that bad. Not all that ugly. Not all that dirty. There are far worse words that can be used, and garbage is an acceptable word in polite, modern society.

 

But garbage is too nice of a word. At it’s best, this is what you throw to the dogs in the street. Not the cute, clean, friendly dogs that sit by you as you watch television. No, these are the dogs that run the streets in packs. This is what you throw away because it’s just so putrid that it’s not good for anything.

 

Paul looks at all the accomplishments in his life and labels them as less than worthless. They were growing that hairy, colorful mold that you find on things that get lost in the back of your refrigerator. They once were good but now have lost all their value. All their usefulness.

 

And why had they turned to garbage? Because when you compare them to the joyful life of being a child of the King of Kings, everything looks like garbage. When you’ve got Jesus, you have God almighty. You have the king and creator of the universe. You’ve got everyone and everything that means anything. So, how’s your forgetting going? Are you forgetting everything that you think is important in comparison to Jesus? And are you knowing him, and only him?

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • Name some of your trophies; things that show yourself successful.

  • Describe a low time in your life and how it made yourself feel.

  • What has to happen for something once valuable to become garbage?


[1] Acts 9:1,2

[2] 2 Corinthians 11:25-30

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