Credentials; February 8, 2023

Philippians 3:7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

We take pride in many things, but most of them aren’t worth it. We evaluate ourselves and others on the basis of things that make no difference at all in eternity. It took a lot to wake Paul up to that reality, but the lesson really did strike home. It is only when we get our priorities straight that we are able to see things as they really are. From this verse on through verse 14 Paul lays out what his priorities have become, and it is a magnificent blueprint for any believer to follow. Most people don’t start out with the sort of credentials Paul had, so that’s all the more reason to understand that we are saved by grace through faith, and not on the basis of anything else. (Ephesians 2:8-9) What Paul is saying in this verse is not that he isn’t grateful for all the advantages he had, but rather that on the eternal scale they were meaningless, because all of us are totally dependent on the grace of God. Knowing Jesus trumps everything else!

I feel a great deal of empathy for Paul, because I’m in the same sort of position as a 4th-generation minister, a missionary and the son of missionaries. My wife was in a Baptist History class in college and the teacher had been talking about W. O. Carver, who had greatly influenced Southern Baptists toward foreign missions, and toward recognizing that God calls and uses women as well as men in His work. In the middle of that lecture he happened to look out the window and notice me walking across campus, and he stopped and told everyone to go to the windows to see the youngest grandson of W. O. Carver, right there on campus. Among Japan Baptists, many older people still get reverential when they hear mention of my father’s name. That sort of thing just about did me in with personal pride, feeling that any church was blessed if I so much as walked in the door, and God had to deal with me pretty strongly about it. Thankfully He is merciful, and didn’t just squash me! All that said, verses 7-14 are my personal testimony, and I am deeply grateful.

Father, thank You for Your incredible grace toward me. I certainly didn’t choose my ancestry, nor even the circumstances under which I was raised. Some things about Your Word seem totally obvious to me, when others can’t seem to grasp them. However, I am very aware of what Jesus said: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) If I fail to apply the truth I know, I’m only deceiving myself. (James 1:22) Help me be the steward You want me to be of all that You have poured out on me, to build up the Body of Christ for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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