March 26 I Saturday
“…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ...” —Philippians 3:8
The greater majority of us want to believe what is true and do what is right. We keep the rules and live as good, responsible citizens. We attend church, but what we hear on Sundays does not translate into Monday, Tuesday or all week long, so we are back on Sunday for another refresher. Our intentions are sincere, yet our relationship with God seems stale, and our hearts feel barren and empty.
If anyone knew the emptiness and frustration of going through all the motions, it was the Apostle Paul. He referred to himself as “a Hebrew of the Hebrews,” proficient in the Hebraic language, education and Scripture. He chose to become a Pharisee, the strict fundamentalists of his day, renowned for their discipline and zeal in adhering to the laws of Moses. “Pharisee” means “separatist.” They were careful with the clothes they wore, the food they ate and who they associated with. Whatever motivation and ability they had, they mustered for themselves. All their confidence, in a profound effort to please God, was placed on themselves. They believed this was their responsibility, so in the end, they only had themselves to pat on the back for any success.
Religious form is necessary, but it is often the unremitting antagonist of spiritual reality. We can get caught up in right activities, but be devoid of any sense of reality with God. As for legalistic righteousness, Paul said he was faultless, but all his efforts he now considers rubbish. On the road to Damascus, he discovered that the righteousness of God is not something to be accomplished, but something to be received! Its origin is in God alone, and is available through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
One of the gravest, but pivotal days in our Christian lives often comes through the brokenness of trying to do all we can to live for God, and realizing, we simply cannot do it under our own steam. Christ is our spiritual life, our source of strength and enabling seven days a week. If we forget that, then like the Pharisees, we will return to our default position of operating in our own strength and ingenuity. Then, when things go wrong—which they often will—we wonder where Christ is.
It is not that the Christian life is draining. We drain ourselves by not being in touch with the life of Christ within us. Dependence on Him in every aspect of our lives is essential to true biblical Christianity, and keeps us in an experiential knowledge of His working in our lives. This is what makes the Christian life not only satisfying, but liberating!
Prayer: Dear Lord, there are often times that I worry and wonder because I have not placed my dependency on You. Help me to change that, Lord, and to trust You entirely. Thank You.