Happy New Year!
OK, so I am a few days late. Today is January 4, 2016. I wonder, did you make New Year’s Resolutions this year? How many of them have been broken already?
The problem with these resolutions is that they usually center on “what I am going to do to make me better”. The focus is in the wrong place! We set goals for ourselves to make us better here on earth. For example, it seems that the most popular resolutions have to do with weight loss and physical fitness. What does that truly say when our top priority has to do with the appearance of our bodies? Other resolutions have to do with improving our mental state: reading more, expanding our vocabulary, etc. Sometimes they can even get “religious”: going to church more, reading the Bible more, etc. There is nothing wrong with these resolutions, in themselves. However, we need to focus on God, not ourselves in everything we do, including these resolutions.
When making resolutions, the very first one, the one of highest priority, needs to be developing a greater relationship with Christ. Here is what Apostle Paul said:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Phil. 3:7-11 NLT).
There are some phrases he uses that really speak to me:
- “everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (v. 8a). In consideration of my relationship with Jesus, I need to realize that everything else in life is worthless. If I could take an old set of balance scales, put my relationship with Jesus on one side and everything else in the world on the other, hands down, the value of my relationship with Christ would prove to be much greater. However, if I could measure the importance I place on these things, would my relationship with Jesus prove to be more important than everything else? The immediate response here is “Of course!” But, the proof is in the pudding. Where do you invest your time? Your energy? What do you get more excited about? Do you sacrifice the stuff in your life for your relationship with the Lord, or do you sacrifice your relationship with the Lord for the stuff in your life?
- “For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.” (v. 8b). I have heard it said that our pursuit of Christ needs to be first and foremost in our lives. Everything else falls in behind. However, Paul tells us that he “discarded everything else”. The problem is that we divide our hearts up, giving Christ His portion while still giving place to other things. God wants all of our hearts, not just the portion we dole out to Him.
- “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” (v. 10a). Having a relationship with anyone means that you know them. The more that person means to you, the more intimate your knowledge of them is. Paul says “I want to know Christ”. In 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” In what way do you know Christ? Do you just have “head” knowledge of Him? You know who He is, and you know all about Him, or do you have an intimate knowledge of Him in your heart? I know who the president of the US is. However, I don’t know him. I can give you details of his life only as I have learned about them, but I have no relational experience with him. I don’t simply want to know about Jesus, I want to know Him! We will never experience the mighty resurrection power of Jesus until we have a relationship with Him.
There are many things in this scripture, and many angles from which to talk about it. In no way am I saying “This is it!” I am just trying to make a point that our relationship with Christ is to take precedence in our lives. Nothing else matters.