1.5.15 Reasons for Confidence!

Philippians 3:4-7 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.

If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

In this passage the author, Paul, is laying out his credentials, his resume if you will.  It is extremely impressive.    He is skilled, experienced, educated, and degreed.  He also comes from the right family and is well connected to very important and powerful people.  If that isn’t enough Paul is not just smart, he’s brilliant, not just committed, he’s passionate, and not just devoted, he’s driven.

Paul is not bragging in this passage.  He is in fact giving testimony.  Imagine what the office or study of a person with such credentials might look like.  Bookcases filled with volumes of the classics.  Walls covered with immaculately framed certificates and diplomas.  Shelves filled will gold and crystal trophies and plaques.  Now image the earner of all these honors and awards standing in the middle of the study with a very large trash can.  Into that can he throws every piece of hardware, notoriety, and acclaim.  Imagine with me that he retrieves a bottle of lighter fluid from his desk drawer along with a book of matches and, in total peace and calm, sets the whole of it ablaze.

I once worked for a man much like what I imagine Paul was like before his conversion.    He was a brilliant businessman driven to make each month more profitable than the one before.  He was a very difficult person to work for because he was so demanding.  Everything had to be done perfectly and perfection was always generously rewarded.  However, anything short of perfection would almost certainly lead to termination.   He had a well-earned reputation of being hard but fair.   Even so few lasted very long.

Recently this gentleman contacted me and asked if I would consider attending the celebration of his 40th wedding anniversary.   I accepted but as the day approached I began to feel some reluctance about attending.  My reluctance wasn’t due to any past issues I had with him.  He always treated me well and with respect.  The issue I had is that he had always been a practicing atheist and some of our greatest debates, indeed arguments had focused on this issue.  These conversations usually ended with me biting my tongue.  After all, he was my employer and I had mouths to feed.  Now, as the date of the event approached, I knew if the issue came up there would be no tongue biting on my part.   Such a scene at such a special event was certainly not something I would want to be party too.  Ultimately I said a prayer and surrendered the situation entirely to our GOD.

The event went very well.  The best and most surprising part came when about halfway through my old boss asked for everyone’s attention.  He then asked several members of his family to join him at the front of the courthouse where the event was being held.  He then said that one of things he took great joy in over the last few years was something he and his family did that had become a tradition.  He asked for our indulgence as he and those family members he asked to join him spent about twenty minutes singing hymns a Capella.  We were all asked to join in on the last two, “Rock of Ages” and “The Old Rugged Cross”.    I sang in amazement of our GOD and HIS wondrous works.   I could never have imagined this man, once so devoted to the non-existence of the CREATOR, openly singing praises to HIM in front of a crowd of family and former employees.

Heavenly FATHER!   Who is like you oh LORD?  We give YOU thanks and praise for all that YOU have given to us.  We are formed in YOUR image and have the promise of eternity in our hearts.  Remind us has we hit those bumps and potholes today that YOU are in us and we have every reason to rejoice.  In CHRIST’S name we pray, Amen.

Jim L.