Life In a No-Loss Zone 10/24/99

Philippians 3:7-10

Jesus Christ said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21).

Most of us have a strong gathering instinct. We are still collectors. Likewise, we are competitors. We like to win and have trophies to prove it. In proper balance these are highly motivating predispositions. They drive us to achieve.

Are you a collector? Some collections are very valuable.

Are you a competitor? Winning is wonderful. It is imbalance about which we should be concerned.

Jesus Chris said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

That puts things in perspective.

All of us like to achieve. That motivates us to be and do our best. It is a driving influence that results in a sense of fulfillment. A sense of accomplishment is bought at the price of effort. It is a sin not to want to be and do our best.

Our every task should be driven by this exhortation: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23).

It is expedient to put these instinctive drives in perspective. Out of control they, though having the potential of achieving great good, can become our all consuming god.

A Biblical model of an achiever is the paragon of success from Tarsus named Paul. He knew he had a pedigree and personal profile of which to be proud and he noted it: “though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:4-6).

Of his achievements he summarily says: “…these I have counted loss for Christ,” they are, “rubbish” (Philippians 3:7, 8).

Comparatively speaking all our trophies, awards, medals, titles, bank accounts, market investments, houses and lands are rubbish compared to having a personal relationship with Christ. It is the lasting quality of our identity with Christ that counts.

A visit to my high school put this in perspective. During my high school era trophies were rare and only given for extremely significant accomplishments. The Balfour representative came to our school to take orders for senior rings. By the way, do you know where your highly treasured ring is today? He learned we were to have our first football game of the year against a team contending for the state championship. He promised us a trophy if we won —- which was highly unlikely. Actually, out of the question. That potential trophy was a safe offer by him. However, to us the idea of a trophy was highly motivating. We blew away a far superior veteran team and proudly claimed our trophy. I can remember standing at that trophy case and smiling at that trophy many times. What an achievement! We won.

Some years later I revisited my high school remembering with pride our victories. They were moving the school’s administrative offices. Moving always involves cleaning out and straightening up. There in a large box of trash I could see sticking out from under waste paper the little gold football player mounted on top of our trophy. That treasured trophy was now being trashed.

Paul said of his “trophies” they are “rubbish.” SKUBALON, the Greek word translated “rubbish” can be translated several ways. It was a term used for left over food to be thrown away. It is a term used for scraps given dogs. It was also the word for dung, excrement, body waste.

This is a bit indelicate but the Authorized King James translates it “dung.” Some of you having been in cow pastures know of what he is speaking. Those little meadow muffins you try to avoid stepping on aren’t considered valuable.

By comparison our relationship with Christ makes all other trophies look like dehydrated meadow muffins.

Consider what is number one in your life. After what are you striving most earnestly? We are to seek first the kingdom of God. That is, God’s will and rule in our life. Are you putting any meadow muffins ahead of that? They some times take the shape of a car, house, sports league, job, person, or financial balance sheet. All of them with Christ as number one are wonderful. Without Him they are dung.

With Him and them in proper relationship life takes on meaning. It then has a power source.

We are a society driven to achieve and acquire above all else. We are so fast paced there is a report of a new microwave fireplace soon to be marketed. You can sit in front of it and enjoy it all evening in just eight minutes.

I have a desk in my study and one in my office. Both contain many little personal treasures and valued items. I have told my wife of the desk in our home and my executive assistant of my desk in the office that everything in those desks is important to me, but if anything happens to me there is no need to go through them just bring in the trash can and dump it because it will mean nothing to anyone else. It then will be rubbish.

When Elvis took his last breath a lot of treasures became rubbish and much was recently disposed of. The same is true of Princess Di and JFK.

That moment will come for each of us. Now is the time to put things in proper perspective. Don’t wait until a crisis or dramatic moment to drive you to do so.

We recently had such a dramatic moment. While in San Diego for the Tom Landry Associates Week End with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes we stayed on the 22nd floor of our lovely hotel. At 3:55 AM I was awakened by the shaking of our bed. Suddenly there was a jolt. I had always said Trudy could sleep through an earthquake. This was her moment as an earthquake registering 7.1 shook the earth. As I awakened her the hotel began to creak and sway. Some walls cracked and plaster fell from some. Clothes in the closet and curtains began to swing back and forth. In fright some persons cried, others screamed, some ran down long flights of stairs to try to escape. We stayed and prayed.

We found out we don’t do earthquakes well. We also found out who the dominant personality in our family is. I kept begging Trudy to make it stop.

It was a moving experience. For nearly three minutes that hotel swayed back and forth with us wondering if the next sway would be too much and the building would crumble. If it had everything we have would have been rubbish. Everything that is but one. Our relationship with Christ would have been more precious than gold. In Him is our victory in time and for eternity.


I. POWER Vs. 10 “that I may know Him and the power…”

You might well be musing: “Well somewhere between Him and me the power-line has been short- circuited. There is a power outage in my life.” That may well be. If it is, it can be corrected. You may feel you don’t have enough power to light a pen light for ten seconds. There is a reason.

You may be so lacking in spiritual power you can’t conquer that sin which does so easily beset you. Perhaps every time you meet sin on the field of temptation you suffer defeat. Instead of saying “I came, I saw, I conquered,” you may feel, “I came, I saw, I concurred.”

To do battle in the energy of the flesh is to suffer repetitious defeats. To wage spiritual warfare in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be assured of victory for, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

Satan recognizes this to be true even if we don’t. He knows He can’t deal with the power imparted by Christ. His only successful ploy is to mislead the believer. He started in the Garden of Eden and still uses the same tactic. It simply is to convince believers God is cheating us and denying us good things that are harmless. Adam and Eve believed that lie rather than the fact that God is trying to preserve our good

Do you desire to know Christ better? This expression does not refer to mere academic information about Christ. It means to come to know by experience. This results in a faith-union that grows. Every venture in faith lets you know the power of Christ to perform in your life.

The power of Christ is available to you as a Christian. That is the same power that removed the grave clothes from Jesus and put back on Him the robe of immortality.

The God who conquered Canna waits to help you conquer your besetting sin. The power that shook the realm earth and the region of the underworld is available to you.

The power that fed the 5,000 is available to you. The power that stilled the storm on Galilee is accessible to you.

A. It is the ability to achieve purpose.
B. It is authority to perform.

To have His power enables a believer to respond as He would to any circumstance. We more often respond like the little boy whose mother had of necessity been very stern in disciplining him. He hid and she looked for him. She finally found him in her closet and asked what he was doing there. He said, “I have spit on your dress. I have spit in your purse. I have spit in your shoes and I am just sitting here waiting for more spit.

II. PARTICIPATION “fellowship of His suffering”

“Fellowship,” KOINONIA, means to associate with. Paul aspired to be so sensitive to Christ’s heart that when a person insulted or affronted Christ, it grieved him also.

Suffering is often the cost to be paid for allegiance. It is His power that enables the believer to endure it as did Christ. Christ not only endured the agony of the cross, He will enable persons to bear their physical sufferings.

He not only endured the mocking and ridicule of the mock trial He will enable the believer to endure and grow through social and emotional abuse.

The Christian life isn’t a detour around suffering; it is a straight guided path through it. If Paul longed to walk in the footprints of Jesus, should we not.

Everybody suffers. EVERYBODY. Christ only gives strength to endure and the ability to interpret it.

It was suffering that purified and prepared the disciples. After seeing the resurrected Christ, it was Peter who strolled back before the very Sanhedrin that condemned Christ and said, “I count it all joy that I am considered worthy to suffer for Him.”

Peter later wrote, “…rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (I Peter 4:13).

We can expect to suffer as did Christ. How did He suffer?

^ He suffered Satanic attack. In hell’s game-plan sleeping saints are allowed to lie. Once they awaken, they become fair game.
^ He suffered ostracism and rejection. Identify with Him and you will alienate certain people. It is strange how a warm heart can result in a cold shoulder.

III. PURSUIT “being conformed to His death”
A simple principle must be applied. There is no resurrection without a crucifixion.

Can you say, “I am crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20).

Do you exhibit the fact, “I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).

We should share Paul’s desire to reflect the living and glorified Christ in all our present attitudes and actions.

A grub worm in the earth and a pupa in a cocoon both have a butterfly nature. In each stage they are in the process of becoming a full grown butterfly. The moment we are saved, we receive our new nature -our butterfly nature. In this body, our “caterpillar shell,” our true nature is that of a butterfly. In this body we are a child of God. We are in the process of becoming all we can be through Christ.

The text exhorts us to pursue: “if by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Vs. 11). The butterfly process is seen in this statement. We should live with the aspiration of attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

There will come a day when all the dead will experience resurrection. This text is the only place in the Bible this Greek word for resurrection is used. It consists of the regular word for “resurrection” with the prefix meaning “out of.” The word means “to be resurrected out from the dead.”

Our ambition should be to be included in the resurrection of the saints out from among the wicked dead who are later to be resurrected.

Back to the opening of our text. In the Greek the word translated “gain” is plural and the word for “loss” singular. Thus, “For Christ’s sake I have learned to count my former gains (plural) as a loss (singular).”

All earthly gains are bundled as one collection and totaled as a “loss” when Christ is omitted.