More Valuable than All Our Achievements

Philippians 3:8   (KJV)   Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

We are pursuing something more significant than any and all achievements we or anyone else can ever achieve. Knowing Jesus more carries infinitely more value than all our advancements and accomplishments—even the spiritual kind. We don’t mind losing Philippians 3.8 - More Valuable than All Our Achievementseverything no matter how precious they may be in the natural eyes and in society’s estimation. Compared to Jesus, they’re like useless garbage.

When it comes to our salvation, our best efforts amount to nothing. We humbly admit: our best efforts still fail miserably short of God’s glorious standards. It’s foolish to anchor our hope in ourselves. Perfection is far from anyone’s reach. The Lord Jesus alone can claim sinlessness. He’s the One to “run after;” He’s the One we take true pride and joy in.

It isn’t wrong to be proud of each other who sincerely and diligently try to do our best to faithfully live out our faith before the Lord and before the watching world. A good testimony—an exemplary life is admirable. There’s a place for compliments. We’re also called to encourage others, and to tell them “good job” when they really do well. It’s befitting for believers to do our best in all our works. Many times, we excel. Even our unbelieving bosses or peers notice.

We shine the light of Jesus through us—that’s a natural goal we have in everything we do. That’s very biblical. We will get applause, approval, and commendations; we may even receive promotion. We’re also called to grow in the knowledge and likeness of our Lord. All these give us sense of satisfaction, and that’s perfectly appropriate. But when it comes to comparing the value of all those achievements and progress to the value of an intimate knowledge and relationship with Jesus, the choice for us is undoubtedly clear: He’s our hands-down preference. Our ultimate pride is not ourselves, it’s Him.

 

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Be Happy for Them

Mark 14:6   (KJV)   6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

Mark 14.6 - Be Happy for ThemJesus corrected the people who were trying to trouble or criticize the woman who broke the alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it on His head. For others, there could have been a much better use for that perfume; for Jesus, what she did was commendable.

Our sincere expressions of devotion to our precious Lord will not be understood by others. That’s very much expected from the world; majority of them won’t understand our willingness to be totally broken and fully spilled out for God. The surprise comes when the misunderstanding comes from fellow believers. Worst is when they don’t only comprehend our actions, but they criticize us—especially when they do so in public, where the lost are watching.

It’s a joy for us learning from others. We welcome suggestions and differing opinions. It’s wisdom to have multitude of counselors. We can learn even from criticisms—if we can call it as such—especially the constructive, corrective, non-judgmental, and non-condemnatory kind—gentle words birthed out of love. We understand and humbly admit we’re far from perfection. We will make mistakes; we will miss blind spots. We’re grateful when others see what we fail to see.

On the other hand, sad to point out, there are self-righteous/know-it-all people—at least that’s how they esteem themselves. Instead of being irritated, annoyed, and angry with them, we pray for them. We pray for us as well. As people of grace, we pray that we will be gracious towards everyone—especially our families—in this context, our spiritual families. Obviously, we have different expressions of devotion. We may feel like there are better ways, but they may have reasons we’re not privy to. What they do may be better than our preference. And that’s our position regarding our differences: they may know something we don’t. With that, we can just be happy for their love of our Savior.

Works Matter

Revelation 14:13   (KJV)   13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Revelation 14.13 - Works MatterSalvation, death, resurrection, rest, works—these are indispensable truths and experiences in the lives of believers.

Being “in the Lord” is the most important experience anyone can ever have here on earth. It’s the only experience that changes and secures our eternal destiny—from an eternal destiny apart from Christ to an eternal destiny in His presence. All of us, except those alive when our precious Lord returns, will experience death. For us believers, it is a most welcome transition to the most glorious state we’ll ever enjoy in our entire existence—a life of rest, love, joy, peace multiplied a gazillion times greater.

In as much as often undermined in teaching the wonders of grace, works matter. They matter now, they will matter in eternity. It’s worth repeating: we’re not saved by works, but we’re saved unto good works.  For believers, it’s not “either-or” between grace and works; it’s both. Grace is God’s part and He does wonders with it; works is our part and we strive to do well in it.

Fear the Father?

1 Peter 1:17   (KJV)   17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

We boldly call God our Father. It’s to Him we pray. He’s the One Who answers our prayers and blesses us graciously; He’s also the One who judges and will judge all of us 1 Peter 1.17 - Fear the Fatheraccording to our works. The appropriate response to these as pilgrims on a sacred journey is to live in fear of God.

We often connect fear to the LORD being our God who judges and condemns, and we connect love to Him being our Father who provides, guides, and saves. But this passage doesn’t show that distinction; the Father is the judge we need to fear.

We have a heavenly Father we can always call on and count on–anytime, anywhere. He’s a perfectly fair Dad. And since He will judge or reward us according to our works, it’s only appropriate that we do what’s good, right, and godly. We’ll always be aware of His incomprehensible greatness and awesomeness so there’ll never be a point in time when we’ll act like little spoiled kids treating our Dad with contempt. No; He’s too mighty, majestic, magnificent, and marvelous for that.

Living Faith

James 2:18   (KJV)   18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

I opted to blog a little differently today.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth James 2.18 - Living Faithwhat manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14).

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20).

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:22,24,26).

I rest my case.

He Won’t Forget

Hebrews 6:10   (KJV)   10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Works matter, not as the means of salvation but as its proof and fruit. God sees, values, and remembers our work and love. It would be unrighteous or unjust for Him not to. How can He not be pleased with His children who delights in pleasing Him, whose paths Hebrews 6.10 - He Won't Forgetare straight, whose hearts are upright, whose walks are faithful, and who diligently work—lovingly serving Him and His children for His glory and honor?

Yes, we take pleasure in pleasing Him. We don’t serve Him for rewards, but we don’t disbelieve the truth that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Sowing and reaping was true in the Old Covenant, true in the natural world, true in the New Covenant, true in the spiritual sphere, true regarding our character, and yes, I personally believe is true in financial facet. We sow—we—give because we love, but we don’t deny the truth about the harvest.

We will continue working and loving; we earnestly intend to do so: diligently, “faith-filledly,” patiently—to the end. He will be there all the way, with smile on His face, and what a joy that is for us. “11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12).

Set in Stone

2 Timothy 2:19   (KJV)   19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

There are argumentable teachings in the Bible—teachings that aren’t so clear; Christians interpret them differently and take positions that are often diametrically in contradiction to each other. Don’t be alarmed; none of these teachings have to do with 2 Timothy 2.19 - Set in Stonesalvation or God in His nature or being. But there are teachings set in stone. Here are two of them: God knows those who belong to Him; those who belong to Him must depart from iniquity.

We believe in the omniscience of God; He doesn’t make mistakes when it comes to who are His and who aren’t, who are saved and who are lost. His part is covered perfectly well. He’s not negligent; He’s not forgetful; He won’t have any “oops” moment. Our part is our part. Although we’ve heard it often stated: “Christianity is not about rules; it’s not about dos and don’ts; we’re not under the Law,” this doesn’t mean we’re unruly and lawless.

We have a loving relationship with our Father; we also have a very respectful relationship with our God. Our Father is our God; our God is our Father; we love Him; we fear Him. We want to do the things He wants us to do because we love Him. But I’ll be honest. In our imperfection; we don’t always do things He wants us to do; that’s when we ought to do them even when we don’t feel like doing them. It’s settled; one of the things we want to do, we ought to do, and we must do, is to depart from—turn away from iniquity, unholiness, unrighteousness, evil, or ungodliness. Yes, whether we want to or not, we must.