Our Loss in Christ
Many have spoken of the great blessings we gain in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14), but what about our losses in Christ?
Paul said in Philippians 3:7-9a "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him,..."
If you have lost some things after obediently following God, do not think you are you unique; just ask Job! But, if you asked Job what he gained in its place, Job would tell you he had no idea, at least until the end the book. We have not gotten to the end of our book yet.
Loss of Abilities
As we grow in Christ, we gain in godliness and spiritual blessings, but we lose some things too. For example, maybe before you came to Christ you were a great drinker, or an "unbelievably believable" liar, an adept software pirate, or otherwise a skillful thief. As you grow in Christ, and stop doing those things you get rusty. You lose your skills to be believed when you lie or cheat, and you lose the pleasure when you sin, realizing how your words or actions are shameful and dishonoring God.
You will not be so "good" at doing evil anymore. Are you willing to lose that? If you want to hold on to your ability to do evil, "just in case", then you are not a fully committed, "sold-out" follower of Christ.
As we gain and grow in Christ, we are to shrink and lose in our natural man. Sometimes it will be losing undesirable parts of our character. Sometimes it will be throwing away the means and tools that are "so helpful" in our sin. We throw those things away, out of our house, not only because we know that is what God wants us to do. Rather, we also throw those things away because we want to. With a curious mixture of disgust and pleasure, we are disgusted that we still have those things, and we derive pleasure from destroying those things and being in God's pleasure.
Sometimes we ask God for more blessings, and we don't get them. God says, "No, no, no, you've already got too much." You need to lose the old carnal things you have, and come to Me, not with outstretched hands, but rather with outstretched empty hands, to grasp the blessings that God wants so much to give us, even more than we want to receive.
Loss of Options
Loss in Christ can mean reducing our options. In other words, it can be deliberately and voluntarily doing things that restrict our "options" to sin.
Sometimes simple practical tactics can act as a therapeutic "brace" to help us lose what we are struggling to lose. As an example, I met a brother in Christ who had been an alcoholic most of his life. He told me that when he finally came to Christ, his friends asked him to go with them for some pints and they would get drunk. But he knew that he was not pleasing God, yet he was weak and could not turn down going out to the pub with his pals. So he stopped carrying more money on him than he needed. When they invited him, they would have to pay, since he did not have any cash. After a while, those drinking buddies did not come around so much, and his problem was solved. He has not gotten drunk since that time many years ago.
Loss of Health
But sinful skills, habits, and character are not the only kinds of things we lose in Christ. I have known someone who lost an eye for Christ. When he was preaching the gospel in China, a communist guy throw a rock that blinded him. People have lost limbs, their faces (due to acid), and their lives in Christ.
When Paul was beaten so badly that he was left for dead, that could not have been therapeutic for his bones, joints, and muscles. But strangely enough, except for two possible hints (in Galatians 6:17 and Colossians 1:24) Paul never speaks of the permanent limps, arthritis, pain, or scars from being persecuted for Christ.
Loss of Loved Ones
These are not bad things that are lost, but they remind us that we are only passing through; our time on this planet is temporary before we go to be with God forever.
Moreover, in life as a Christian we lose loved ones too. Sometimes we lose the company or friendship of those who would lead us to wickedness, and away from Christ, but I am not talking so much about that. Rather, we can lose good friends, family, and dear brothers and sisters in Christ to illness, accidents, and the injustice of violent crimes by others. But these things happen to non-believers too. These very painful reminders whisper to us not to get too comfortable in this sin-soaked world, because as citizens of heaven we really belong somewhere else. We don't go there yet, because God has work for us to do here first.
Loss of our Rights, - that we thought we had
1 Corinthians 6:19b-20 says, "...and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
You need to ask yourself, To whom do you belong? the next time you feel you have rights, here are right you do not have anymore.
get angry Jonah 4:8-10, Eph 4:26,31; Mt 5:22
malice to those whom you think should get it. Eph 4:31
be unforgiving 2 Tim 3:3; Mt 6:12-15; 18:21-35
pride James 4:6; 2 Tim 3:2; Ps 31:23; 101:5; 138:6
not have to say you are sorry James 5:16; ~Acts 19:8
ungrateful Eph 5:4,20; Php 4:6; 1 Th 5:18; 2 Tim 3:2
judge other people James 4:11-12; Mt 7:1-6
naïveté Mt 10:16
not love others 1 John 3:17; 4:20-21; Mt 5:44; Col 1:4
Be Aware: Pruning Ahead
What the difference is between a plain slab of marble and a beautiful marble sculpture? The answer is nothing, except that the sculpture has lost some things.
So Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. John 15:1-2 says, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." God does not prune us that we can be smaller, but rather that the growth makes us large in the best and proper areas.
But what if you also have some bad pruning, by the world? Then let Jesus prune off any scar of resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness, and then grow back, as you receive nourishment from the True Vine, Jesus.
Have Empty Hands
Maybe God longs to fill your hands with gifts and blessings, and He can do so, but God does not, even though He yearns to do so. Your hands are already too full with what you are holding on to. You might have worked hard for those things, and those things might be valuable, and you are afraid to let them go.
But what are you in effect believing is that what you have acquired, perhaps by your hard work, better, more valuable, or a safer investment than what God could give you. You believe that God leads us in a good way. But do you believe that God's way is the best way?
Offer everything you have to God. God will take it. Some of it God will not ever give back either. Some of it God will give back to you to use. And some of it God may give back in a more powerful way, for His glory.
Is the Lord of all time Lord of Your time?
Some people, close to death, look back with regret and think, of all of those wasted years. Now God expects us to have time to rest and enjoy our life too. But generally, has the way you have spent your time pleasing to God?
Does God own your checkbook?
Tithing was a command only in the Old Testament, but it sets the standard for generosity in the New. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says that God loves a cheerful giver.
Which is first: God or relationships?
Bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor 15:22). Anyone who is a friend of the world is not a friend of God (James 4:4), yet we are love people in the world. If you are scared to shared Christ with a friend, you have to decide: do you value the friendship as more important, or the friend? You have to be willing to lose your life to save it. Mt 16:25; Mk 8:35; Lk 9:24; 17:33
The Sum of the Matter
The paradox is this: when you come to God, but with your hands full of things you are not offering to him, you have a great loss. You are losing in lacking God's gifts and blessings, more than if you had let go and lost the things in your hands to keep before Him empty.
Bible verses are from the NKJV.
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