|Volume 22 Number 7 July 2020||
In Philippians 3, Paul wrote to warn Christians that they will have to confront false teachers. These individuals would teach the Gentile Christians that they must be circumcised to be Christians. They also probably taught that some of the other rules and regulations from the Old Testament needed to be followed. Paul told Christians that such teaching is wrong.
Paul told them that no one was more Jewish than he was. In verse 5, he itemized things to prove without a shadow of a doubt that he knew exactly what it meant to be a Jew under the Old Law. He was not an Ishmaelite; he was circumcised as an infant. He was not a Hellenized Jew; he spoke Hebrew. He was not just from any tribe, but from Benjamin—the same tribe as Saul, Mordecai and some other famous individuals. He had been one of the 6,000 or fewer Pharisees whose whole intent was to keep all Jewish laws and regulations. He had been so devout that he formerly persecuted Christians.
In verse 7, Paul said, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” He had given up all of those prestigious things about his life for his new life in Christ. He no longer thought they were important or binding. The word “gain” is actually in the plural in the Greek. The word “loss” is singular. This gives an even more impressive picture of what Paul said. He considered each prestigious item as an important gain in his life. Each thing was something that he felt great privilege in having. Each thing was something that others would look upon as important. Yet, when Paul became a Christian, he did not look at each item and decide to give it up. He did not hesitate more on one thing than he did on another. He grouped all the ‘gains’ into a singular “loss.”
By stating it as plural gains but a singular loss, Paul was telling the Philippians that the gain of blessings in Christ made all of those things under the Old Law look like almost nothing. When added together, they came to no more than one thing when compared to life in Christ.
Study your Bible. Learn all you can about the wonderful life in Christ. If any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.
Initiative and Ingenuity
Donald R. Fox
And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” …But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins — He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-5, 10-12 NKJV)
What great initiative and ingenuity the friends of the man sick of palsy showed! Webster defines initiative in part as “the characteristic of originating new ideas or methods; ability to think and act without being urged.” A free, online dictionary says of ingenuity that it implies “the power of creative imagination; inventiveness; resourcefulness.”
Some of us have been employed where an efficiency report is prepared and submitted by the boss. Your employer or supervisor gives you a report of how you are doing—your positive and negative points. How would you feel if your boss said about you, “This employee has no initiative or ingenuity”? Ouch!
Let’s illustrate initiative and ingenuity by using a few examples. You see very young children playing in a yard, and some are barefoot. You notice several pieces of broken glass in the yard. What do you do? Do you take the initiative and pick up the glass, or do you just pass by in disinterest? Maybe that illustration was too easy. How about this: you arrive for Wednesday night Bible study, and it’s dark already. The preacher is locked away in his office, and not all classroom lights are on. You see the young ones arriving and going to their classrooms in the dark. Do you murmur to yourself that someone is not doing his job, or maybe do you take the initiative and turn on the classroom lights yourself?
Too many times, people act in a disinterested fashion. May we all be known as people with a get up and go disposition. The church of Christ needs men and women who display positive traits without the need of being urged and implored. Let’s preach the Gospel of Christ positively, using initiative and resourcefulness.
Read again Mark’s inspired account of Jesus healing of the man with palsy. Pay close attention to the actions of his friends. As far as I am concerned, they all get a gold star. Those friends showed initiative and ingenuity. What a blessing the palsied man had—to have such friends.