Thursday, December 18, 2008

Zeal?

It seems fitting that on a day when the “weather outside is frightful” and I feel like staying in bed and doing nothing, that the Lord should have me read a passage about zeal for serving Him. This was written by Paul to the Philippians. He was telling them about the things that had been considered valuable in his life. Then he said:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
As a less than average Christian, I read this and think about the stuff I consider gain and hang on to, stuff that matters to me. I also think of my need for a righteousness that is not my own and know that my only hope is in Christ’s righteousness. Yet I struggle with the giving up part. I still struggle with my efforts to be virtuous and have a hard time giving up the stuff for which others might give me some applause.

I want to have a good track record and be popular. I want to be well thought of, a good neighbor and friend. The world values generosity and kindness, the ‘nice’ things that Christ can give me, and I want that. I want the power of His resurrection, which could mean that such glory pours out of my life that others see it and are drawn to Him. Wouldn’t that be great?

But I’m not too keen about the other stuff. I’m not all that interested in suffering with Jesus. I’m glad when I find out that any suffering I have falls into that category, but unlike Paul, I’m not seeking losses that I might experience this “gain” to my spiritual growth.

While being conformed to His death is, in my case, not redemptive, I know that dying to self will allow His life to flow through me. It sounds so good, but the dying part is hard. Paul says it will bring him more in line with the purpose of God. I think he means that by dying to self, he will be prepared for that final transformation when he leaves his body and is then resurrected from the dead.

I’m not as keen, this morning at least. Paul’s example is too lofty for me. I want the rewards but am not very excited about paying the price. Because of that, I’m glad he added a few more words . . . “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on . . .” (verse 12).

That I can relate to, particularly on this dull day with my dull emotions about the day. With God’s help, the least I can do is say with Paul that I’m not there yet, and by God’s grace, with him, I can press on.

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