Once in awhile this question comes back to me. Especially after preaching on Philippians 3:7-11, I cannot help but to get into Paul’s mind and see how he would have answered to the same question. I actually ask this question of “is it worth it?” in two different circumstances with two different responses. I ask it when life gets really tough and when I see the beauty of Christ. When life gets really difficult, my response to the question is to fight it hard and to depend on Christ to know that it is all worth it at the end. When I see the beauty of Christ, my response to the question is through tears — it is just that it is so worth it x 10000000000000 that I could have given more.
No, I will not write my expository sermon here, but just about some illustrations that I had in the message and some of my own personal reflections.
We all try to see the balance of loss and gain. If the loss outweighs the gain, we will take the action. If the gain outweighs the loss, we will do it. Naive as I was, I always thought my mother’s spanking was rather small comparing to the fun that I could have with my friends playing soccer. Nothing could have stopped me because I saw that the gain of fun outweighed the rain and the pain.
Isn’t that what we do everyday? We go to work because the joy that we get from working, the money that we receive from jobs, the knowledge that we can receive from school, the exciting from playing games, the happiness we get from spending time with someone, the workout that help lose the fat/gain fitness, the winner-like-feeling from comparing our life with others or even the pleasures we get from sins – we pursue them because we see them as gain comparing to the loss that we have in other parts of our lives.
But for Paul, he considers everything as loss compared to knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. He did not find his gain in his status as a Hebrew, nor in his knowledge of the law, nor in his own righteousness. That is just so much that the world would think of as gain, but for him, everything is just rubbish that he may gain Christ. His eyes were not on the earthly pleasure but in heavenly treasures.
There are some things in my life that I still have a hard time seeing as gain. As I am closing my eyes to sleep, I thought of the past, and my prayer is that the Lord will help me see them as gain… if it is to gain more surpassing knowledge of Christ, if it is to know the power his resurrection participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death… whatever I have not received, whatever I could have accomplished, whatever mistakes i have made – if they are to help me closer to you, help me see them as gain.
I can still recall this one friend who called me during my exam times because she had problems with her boyfriends and I spent hours calming her down (don’t think she would even remember). Would that be my gain? I remember around this time last year, when a friend got kicked out of the house and I was just there with some friends, staying up all night praying/talking with the friend and came back driving in the morning for class, and almost got into accident from falling asleep behind the wheels. Would that be my gain? Breaking up with a girlfriend for purity and for the sake of witnessing. Would that be my gain? Giving up med school goals so that I could serve in ministry. Would that be my gain? Letting go to my pride in talking to the youth and the elders of the church. Would that be my gain? Inviting other Chin/other brothers and sisters to help create things to lead the youth despite how I hate to initiate the talk? Would that be my gain? Losing hours of studying time for the sake of prayers. Would that be my gain? Leaving out time so that my little ones could talk to me and that I could help them grow regardless of the grades that I am getting. Would that be my gain?
Yessss to all. ‘When we arrive at the eternity’s shore where death is just a memory and tears are no more’, I will probably say ten thousand times ‘yes’ to everything in my life. I will probably add how beautiful and worthy is the Lamb that has been slain for me. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty! Further more, I would probably sing, “Why have you chosen me out of millions your child to be?”
I want to imitate the Apostle Paul in imitating Christ because Christ knew losing his life was to gain us all, and knew gaining us all was the Father’s eternal pleasure. While on the cross, Jesus thought of me gaining eternal life through his resurrection.
Then, how could anything be a loss if I were in the process in knowing him and serving him, the one who lost it all to gain my soul. And he is the same God who was raised from death so that he will judge all the losses/gains that we have considered on this earth. How real it will be on that day; what we actually gain and what we actually lose.
Oh the Lamb of God who was slain, help me say with all my heart on that day, “you have always been my greatest gain.”
John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.