Resolve to Solve in 2015
You know it’s that time of the year again when we as Americans do a scan of our lives and determine what changes we’d like to make so that we can fashion ourselves into a new and improved version of ourselves. A quick perusal through a number of websites will give us a composite of New Year’s resolutions that look something like this:
1) Go to the gym/diet/lose weight
2) Stop smoking/drinking/name your bad habit
3) Get finances back in order/budget
There is nothing wrong with the list, as we could all use improvement in some areas I’m sure, but the problem with these examples is that they all begin and end with us.
What is it about us, as Christ followers, that wants to have resolutions? We could point to the “Resolutions of Jonathon Edwards” as a great example, but where would we look in scripture for guidance in formulating resolutions?
Well, although the context is righteousness and not resolutions in Philippians 3, still the Apostle Paul gives us some principles which might help in this endeavor. He says in verses 7 and 8: “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”.
Paul is assessing those things in his life that he counts as good or “gain” and putting them in their proper categories. He is contrasting “good” temporal blessings with “surpassing blessings”.
If Paul had comprised a list of Resolutions for the year of 60AD, what would it have looked like? Maybe we could use our imagination to come up with one for him based on what we know of his life. Paul’s list might have looked something like this
1) Get out of jail. Paul is writing the letter from prison and would probably have considered getting out to be a “gain”.
2) An overthrow of the oppressive Roman government might have been on his list, after all no one wants to live in a country which was given to your people at one point and then occupied by a hostile power.
3) Paul might have wanted to settle down, get married, raise a family.
4) Finances: Paul might have wanted to expand his tent making business in other markets to further his income potential.
5) Health: I’m sure Paul would have desired better health; after all we know he was beaten, whipped and stoned for the sake of the gospel. Plus, there was that pesky “thorn in the side” which always plagued him.
You can tell the Apostle Paul is weighing his options as to what should be the Resolution above all other resolutions. He mentioned the word “counted” 3 times in 2 verses. He’s doing “kingdom math 101” and on one side of the equation he lists all the things from his list of “gains”, and on the other side of the ledger is simply, the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. The calculation takes only a second and the outcome is clear: Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
It wasn’t that getting out of jail, being healed of his ailment, or having a warm meal cooked by a wonderful woman in a free county wasn’t a good thing: it was just that gain was only rubbish when compared to the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus”. May we resolve to do kingdom math the way our brother Paul did.
Article by Jim Delver, Elder at Trinity Chickasha.