Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. Philippians 3:8-9
When I started seminary four-and-a-half years ago, I was so excited. I wanted to learn about God and the Bible, make good grades, and leave a good impression along the way. I thought, "If I study really hard and commit fully to my studies and pay attention in class, then I will absolutely excel!" For two years, I operated under this mindset until I had completely burnt out. I was exhausted and did not know how I was going to finish my program. The problem with my mindset is that I was trying to complete seminary on my own strength. I did not invite God into my studies and was was attempting to finishe grad school on my own strength. After two years, I realized my mistake. I repented, told God that I could not complete seminary on my own, and asked Him to help me. When this happened, everything changed. Yes, I still worked hard and did my best, but I trusted God with the results. To my surprise, when this happened, my grades increased, and I was no longer exhausted and burnt out. Instead, I had joy as I finished my degree program. Inviting God to work and help me during my time in grad school changed my entire seminary experience.
Have you been going through life trying to succeed on your own without depending on God? Maybe you are currently feeling exhausted and burnt out from trying to live your life on your own. This week, we are continuing our conversation about the gap we often feel from where we thought we would be to where we are. We may feel disappointed with our circumstances, wishing that our lives had turned out differently, or that our relationship with God would be stronger. When we feel that gap, it can be tempting to try to fix it on our own by trying harder. Often, we think, "If I just read my Bible for one hour every morning and pray more, I can fill this gap!" or "I can fill this gap by being a really good person." Sometimes we ignore the gap and pretend everything is okay, hoping that by ignoring it, the gap we fill will go away. Friends, none of these things will fix the gap we feel because they rely on our own strength. None of these things invites God to work in our lives.
The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to try to fill the gap with accomplishments. In Philippians 3, he writes that if anyone had a right to boast about their accomplishments, he did. He was taught by one of the best teachers, he knew Scripture, and he had a great job as a Jewish rabbi. Yet he did not truly know God. After he met Jesus, he declared in Philippians 3:8, all of his accomplishments were "meaningless" compared to knowing Christ and following Him.
Is there a gap between where you thought you would be and where you currently are with God? Do you feel distant from Him? Maybe you thought you would no longer be tempted and but you are currently exhausted from battling temptation every day. You had expectations of where you thought your life would be after you started following Christ and are disappointed because your life is nothing like you expected. It may be tempting to try to fix your gap on your own by trying harder or ignoring the gap. I urge you, my friend, do not try to fix the gap. You will find yourself exhausted and burnt out. Turn to God. Invite him to help you as you strive to follow Him when your life has not turned out how you expected.
Have you been trying to fill the gap you feel between where you are and where you thought you would be on your own strength? There is a better way! Invite God to help fill that gap. Inviting Him to help fill the gap begins with confession. In your journal, write out a prayer of confession, telling God the ways you have been trying to fill the gap on your own. Ask Him to fill the gap and trust Him to work.
Read Philippians 3:5-11 (NLT)
I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!