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Pastoral 2014

A Life Lived for Christ


In the epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul expressed the deep feelings that he had for Christ. His love for Christ was unbridled. He confessed, “For to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Life itself was dedicated to Christ. He desired nothing that is incongruent with Christ’s purposes and glory. He would not pursue anything else other than that which pleases the Lord. His life was wholly committed to Christ. He was single-minded about the purpose and goal of his life; and it was to glorify Christ. What a rebuke it is to Christians who are lost in their pursuits of worldly pleasure, gain and fame!

Below, I would like to share with you two of Paul’s confessions that bear further witness to his undivided, steadfast commitment to Christ. May Paul’s testimony stir your heart to live your life for Christ with enthusiasm and zeal.

Nothing matters but Christ

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”
– Philippians 3:7

Once Christ becomes the most cherished desire of a soul, everything that was dear and profitable till then would quickly fade in its appeal and significance to his thoughts. The Apostle Paul was such a person. Since his soul has embraced Christ as his Saviour and Lord, he has been totally captivated by the glory of Christ. Nothing has ever fascinated his soul as much as Christ’s love, grace, truth, glory and His person. Everything he once considered “gain” became worthless and unappealing. And all that impeded his single-minded devotion to Christ were utterly repulsive and rejected right away as “loss”. The word “loss” (zēmía) was used in Acts 27:21 with reference to the valuable goods which the mariners threw out into the sea, for the sake of people on board the ship who were imperilled by a great storm. Like those mariners, for the sake of his life with Christ, Paul cast off everything that was once utterly important to him.

In the previous verses, Paul listed the things which were once of great importance to him. He placed all his confidence in them in the past. “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (vv. 5, 6). Seven advantages were listed. The first four in the list constitute his prestigious heritage which the apostle inherited by birth – circumcision he received as the sign of the covenant, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a Hebrew son of Hebrew parents. Those things were very important to him, for they gave him great confidence about his rights, position and prominence.

But he tells us in our text that he has renounced all those fleshly confidence in order to gain Christ. Once he thought of them to be of gain, for they brought glory to him personally. However, they were of no profit in the spiritual realm; they did not bring glory to God who sent His son to be the Saviour of His people. Hence he counted the past gains as loss so as to gain Christ, who alone could grant him the righteousness of God. Nothing else really mattered to him any more. Having Christ as his Saviour and Lord far surpassed the reputation and everything else he derived in Judaism.

Jim Elliot, a great missionary, once said: “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Nothing less than the utmost for Christ

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 3:14

Paul’s Christian life was characterized by an unstoppable zeal for Christ. He did not want to be weighed down by his past experiences or distracted by the present issues. This he testified in the preceding verse, “but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (v.13).

Paul was determined to pursue with earnestness and diligence “the mark” he aimed at. He would not yield to any dissuasion or opposition that would come before him. His mind was genuinely and firmly set on the goal. Why was Paul so resolute in his Christian life? Because he was captivated by “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. His foremost desire was “the prize” or the reward which God had called him to attain. He regarded it as “the high calling of God”, far superior and nobler than any earthly goal. It was above all other human agendas and persuasions, for it was God’s appointment for him. As a Christian, it was his highest, greatest, grandest and utmost passion.

The certainty of the mark of the high calling that God has given him is grounded “in Christ Jesus”. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in him (Christ) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” The prize that God gives in Christ Jesus to His people is imperishable. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” So, all his life as a Christian, his heart was fixed on that celestial, eternal prize; he never let anything distract him from it. When he approached the end of his earthly life, he exclaimed with great expectancy, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

Our eternal inheritance in Christ demands our maximum exertion all through our life for His glory. As Hebrews 12:28 exhorts us, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”