Real Joy . . .
Real Joy . . .
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12 (NIV)
Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter to the Philippians. Anyone with half a brain could see that he had lost everything.
He had started out so well- a good Jewish boy with Roman citizenship, a pedigree like no other, a stellar education, a sharp mind and a passionate heart. But here he was in prison, considered an enemy of his Jewish people, all because he had chosen to announce his allegiance to a Jewish preacher named Jesus Christ.
I'm sure all of Paul's former friends, family and colleagues thought he was a fool.
But Paul didn't see his life that way. "I consider them (the things he lost) rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Philippians 3:8 (NIV)
Why did Paul consider those privileges and his opportunity for importance to be meaningless trash? Because those things were actually keeping him from knowing God through Jesus. He depended on those things that made him look good and gave him value to prove his goodness and righteousness before God.
When they were all stripped away from Paul after he had a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus, he discovered the truth. He had no righteousness, or right standing with God, on his own. The only righteousness he could ever hope to get came through faith in Christ.
". . . not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Philippians 3:9b (NIV)
Once Paul finally admitted to himself and everyone else that he couldn't be good enough, he was free. NO more comparing. NO more pretending. NO more looking down at others to make himself feel better. NO more performing.
Paul was free now to admit that he wasn't perfect yet, but that God had put him on the right road. "Not that I have already obtained all this," he said in Philippians 3:12 (NIV).
What has God stripped away from you lately that you might have been depending on to make you look good to others or feel better than others? Are you caught in a game of pretending instead of depending on God?
Anything can become an ungodly crutch, even (maybe especially) God-given things: family, health, talents, money, position, knowledge, even religious zeal.
These are all things that COULD keep us from putting our faith in the one and only God. God knows, even if you don't yet, that only He can bring you joy.
This is why Paul, who had everything stripped away, could say, "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord." Philippians 3:1a (NIV)
Bible Teacher, Journalism Instructor, Newspaper Reporter
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eThoughts Team - Extended Week-day Free Devotions -- Vol. XII, No. 07-07AP -- Archived
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