- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2008

The following are excerpts of a recent sermon preached by Pastor Daniel C. Inghram at National Capital Bible Church:

Have you ever been around someone who was very proud of what they have accomplished? There is nothing wrong with personal achievements, with being pleased that we are able to do and do well. But more often than not, they are precisely that: human accomplishments. We swell with pride because of what we have accomplished rather than acknowledging that all of our talent, success, achievement and recognition is a provision of the grace of God. It is important that we recognize the difference. In the one instance, we are driven by our own personal goals to achieve; in the other, we are driven by our personal commitment to serve the Lord in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, our priority in life is to know and serve Him. At salvation, we all receive talents, gifts from the Holy Spirit to serve the Body of Christ, but all too often we use these God-given talents to work outside the church, and for our own selfish ambitions. “But wait a minute,” you say, “My family and I need to eat, have clothes, a roof over our heads, golf clubs, a big-screen TV, don’t we?” Yes, we must provide for our families; but even the jobs God provides for us are designed ultimately for us to serve Him. We may try to convince ourselves that we are doing our work as unto the Lord, but are we really? When we become so distracted by what we are accomplishing in our jobs that we become too busy to pray, to learn God’s Word, to serve or volunteer in the church, to teach children the Word of God, our priorities in life are wrong.

Jesus addressed a similar issue with the Pharisees in Mark 7:10-13. When the indigent parents of Pharisees would come to them for financial assistance, the Pharisees would say that any money with which they could help them was corban, dedicated to the Lord and therefore not available. By claiming corban, the Pharisees, who by the way were still living exceptionally well, denied their parents the honor required by the Mosaic Law.

“Time” is the modern-day equivalent of first-century corban. Ninety-nine percent of our time is taken up with our earthly accomplishments, but we justify it by saying that time, our work, is dedicated to the Lord. Yet by leaving no time to pray or learn God’s Word or serve Him, we, like the Pharisees, deny the Lord’s requirements on our lives.

This is part of Paul’s subject in Philippians 3:8 and following. We have seen that the word order in the Greek reveals Paul’s emphasis: “I also continue to count all these things [human accomplishments] to be loss because of the excellence of the incomparable knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for the sake of whom I have experienced the loss of all things and count them as excrement in order that I might gain Christ … .”

Paul’s faith or “that I might gain Christ” was not mysticism or a blind leap, but a conscious belief in Jesus Christ and His salvific work on the cross on behalf of all mankind. Once Paul understood Christ’s finished work, he counted all of his accomplishments in the human realm — and they were considerable — a complete loss. Paul took his incomparable zeal and energy from being a Pharisee to becoming an Apostle. He understood true priorities. Paul continued to “press on so that he might take hold of that which he was laid hold of by Christ.” Nothing stood in the way of his relationship with the Lord and his service to Him. Why? Paul was not focused on the “earthly things,” personal achievements that have no eternal consequences, but on his citizenship in heaven and his personal sense of his eternal destiny.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have a citizenship in heaven. Truly, this world is not our home! As heavenly citizens, we are still responsible to fulfill our earthly duties, yet we are also to live our lives in the light of eternity. Accumulating treasures here is tempting, but should not be the focus of our lives. In Matthew 6:19-21, Christ admonishes us to lay up treasure in heaven and not on earth, for our focus cannot be on heaven, our eternal destiny, if we are concentrating laying up treasures on earth. There is an old saying by an unknown author that has much truth in it: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Our lives are to be patterned after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed in His Word. The transformation wrought in our lives by the power of the Spirit and learning the Word of God is one no longer focused on self and selfish ambitions, but one focused on the Lord, knowing and serving Him. Then, and only then, can we truly live the godly life that is a reflection of our Lord Jesus Christ and His grace provision.

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