Gaining in Jesus Christ
By Edna M. Thompson
Youth Sunday School Teacher
Siloam Baptist Church, Montross
Materialism and unhealthy ambition are two of the most significant challenges with which many Christians struggle. Our fascination with status, standing and recognition is a serious threat to an uncontrolled commitment to the kingdom of God. The struggle for the hearts and minds of believers is to resist Satan’s attempt to usurp what God wants to do in our lives by planting within our spirits desires and needs for the things of the world.
Paul believed that none of the achievements of this life are worth anything when compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus. Our lesson (Philippians 3:1-11) will lead us into a time of introspection and a reassessment of our own values and priorities. In Philippians 3:1-3, Paul wrote about dealing with the confusion that had cropped up in the congregation over the issue of keeping Jewish practices, such as circumcision. A group of Jewish believers or evangelists had come to the church in Philippi and taught that only those persons who practiced the Jewish religious customs could really be saved. The problem of keeping the Jewish law posed a major threat for the early church – and circumcision was at the heart of the issue (see Acts 15:1 ff). The Judaizers set themselves up as the chief teachers of the “right way.” Paul detailed all of his credentials and his advantages. He read his resume to them just to remind the Philippians that he had achieved the highest levels of piety according to Jewish law and tradition. In Jesus Christ, Paul found the true meaning of what it meant to live and have value.
When one is born-again, it is nothing less than transformation from a life of sin to a life of holiness. God transforms our messed up and ragged lives into newly resurrected ones. The Holy Spirit brings changes to us. He sweetens us by taking the bitterness out of our lives. He rebuilds us into spiritual men and women, who know the power of Jesus’ resurrection. He changes our habits and desires and our principles and practices. The Holy Spirit changes our dispositions and attitudes. He changes our standards and lifestyles. There are millions of people around the world who know what it means to be lost in sin. Just think for a moment where you used to be and what your life was like before Christ. We did not change ourselves; it was nothing less than the power of the Resurrection to transform our lives.
Paul was faithful in adhering to the words that our Lord Jesus spoke to his disciples, when he said, “Seek, and ye shall find (Luke 11:9).” He was led by his faith in God, and he knew that this would be the key to gain the prize that he so desired. “Without faith it is impossible to please him (Heb. 11:6).” He further knew that it was necessary to apply these words in his life, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).” In giving this admonition, Jesus was contrasting our proper interest as New Creatures in eternal heavenly things with the interests of most in the world, whose primary focus is on the temporal earthly things of life.
In order to know Christ and have a personal relationship with Him, we need to be willing to make sacrifices in our lives. Sometimes, we have to give up old friends. Other times, we have to make time and take time to read and meditate on His Word, engage in prayer and fasting. So often in our fast-paced society, we have to be deliberate about making determine to make time for God. Are you determined to do so?