St Paul says, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.“
But I say, “I don’t want to give up my profits.”
I don’t mind letting others know my strengths and what I’ve done right. I’m glad to say I’m not a liar, not a cheater, not a stealer, at least not most of the time. I’m downright proud of some things: I volunteer, I save money, I love my kids, I try to help people, and I’m trying to do better in the things I do. You get the point.
I’d like to call all that profit, even before the Lord. And that’s exactly the problem. What I don’t like to admit, and neither do you, is that everything that I do is filthy rubbish, as God calls it. I don’t mind confessing my sin, it’s just that I don’t think I need forgiveness for my good deeds.
And that means I only want a part-time Savior. I want Jesus to die for my bad moments, not my good ones. So I make a list of my sins on the one side and a list of my good works on the other. I let Jesus die for my sins and I let my profits speak for themselves. Jesus is my part time Savior. I cover the rest. I have, then, a righteousness of my own, at least in part, that comes from the law. See how my profits get in the way of the cross?
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags, says the Lord. All of them.
If we really want to see the cross and somehow to attain to the resurrection through it, there’s only one way, to become like Him in His death. We have to die with Jesus.
We have to die to our self-righteousness. And dying is painful. Ever see a person who is addicted to heroin go through withdrawal when they are in rehab? My sinful nature hates giving up my profits that much. It feels like death to die with Christ, to admit to God that our best works are nothing but rubbish. The sinful nature screams and kicks. It wants to keep it all and be so proud.
Come closer to the cross and hear him moan, see him bleed, watch Him taking shorter breaths. He set every bit of profit aside and His loss is our gain. He loses His life and we gain salvation.
This kind of self-sacrificing love is so powerful it draws us in. We preach Christ crucified and we drop our list of profits, tear it up, shred it, toss it away as rubbish.
Righteousness is not found in me; it’s given to me.
This is how you and I need to be wrapped up in the cross, this is what we need to see. There at Jesus crucified, you’ve traded in your sin and death, and even your profits, for the promise of eternal resurrection.
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
What seemed like gain is now loss that I may gain Christ. Ever less of me, ever more of Christ. He doesn’t need what I have; I need what He has.
And here’s some amazing grace. Christ keeps record. He holds on to the list of those things that we’ve done by the power of His resurrection, those things He’s worked in us. Because just like us, our good deeds have been washed in the blood through faith. And so He accepts them and they are pleasing to Him; they are to His glory.
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