FJWL (Custom)

In our society we insure things that are deemed extremely valuable to us. Wealth is insured. Physical property is insured. Singers insure their vocal cords. Violinists insure their hands. Soccer players insure their feet. Founders of organizations and companies insure themselves. Jerry Falwell’s insurance payload, I am told, was enough to get rid of all the debt of Liberty University. Smart guy.

The irony for us who claim to follow the way of Christ is that our most prized possession can never be insured as the world thinks of insurance. And there is a reason for that. We not only insure things because they are extremely valuable, we also insure them because there is a chance they could be lost, or stolen, or injured, or simply go away forever. We insure what we are not sure of.

Nobody would take me seriously if I walked into an insurance agency and declared: “I would like to insure my salvation.” People would think I was nuts. But isn’t that a most prized thing for me? Absolutely. “And what are you afraid may happen to it?” “Well, nothing.” “Sorry, sir. We can’t insure that, and by the way, here is the name of the closest Psychologist…”

The fact is my salvation has already been insured by God Himself, with the blood of His Son and His resurrection as the two events that sealed the deal. The work was all done by Jesus and what I must do is repent and receive His offer of reconciliation and forgiveness.

But the simplicity of this transaction should never obscure the sublime nature of it. In the passage we will be studying this Sunday, Philippians 3:1-14, Paul drives a stake on the ground. He draws a line, so to speak, before and after Christ. Like so many of us, he talks about how life was before He met Christ. He was pursuing greatness merely through human efforts. He was proud of his ethnicity and his learned accomplishments. He was convinced he was carrying the work of God by hunting down Christians to make their lives miserable. Paul was on a roll, and by all accounts, a very successful man.

Then on a road to the city of Damascus one day, everything changed when He met the risen Lord face to face. I call that “The greatest reversal.” In his own words, Paul says, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…” (Philippians 3:8). 

Paul’s translators, unfortunately, are more scrupulous than he was about communicating how he really felt about the things that had value to him before he found Christ. The word translated here “garbage” in the NIV is the Greek word skoubalos. This word is so strong that outside of the biblical literature it is used to refer to “animal manure.” The King James is right here when it translates it “dung.” In Spanish the word is estiércol, literally, animal excrement.

Perspective, folks, more often than not, is what we need. Social status, fat bank accounts, summer houses, doctoral degrees, success at work, being recognized by our peers, etc., are all things that, at one time, may have been the reason many of us lived and worked. But now that we have found Christ, they are like animal manure when compared to the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.” 

And that is why we should “insure” that relationship by making sure that we live like it is indeed our most sublime, most prized possession, every day, every hour, every moment of our lives.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade