A lot of people are looking for joy in all the wrong places. We want to find it in a bigger church…or a more effective ministry…and sometimes even the accolades of our peers. Yet we do this in vain because that’s not the place where we will find joy.
Paul talks about his own priorities in his letter to the Philippians. He said: “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8)
This is Paul’s “Profit and Loss Statement” where he talks about his confidence that nothing compares with knowing Jesus. Everything else is worth losing. Friends, your priorities are out of balance – even out of place – if they aren’t squarely focused on the person of Jesus Christ and if you don’t elevate Him to the position of honour in your life. This is one of the reasons why Paul could stay joyful despite being in prison as he is writing this letter.
Notice the phrase, “I consider (all things) rubbish that I may gain Christ.” The translators were being polite. The word isn’t rubbish - it’s dung…it’s manure. Paul is not mincing his words! He says that everything we have is worthless garbage without Jesus. No matter what it is…everything - fame, money, power - nothing can replace the simple joy of knowing Jesus!
You find joy when you keep your priorities straight. Please don’t lose your joy over things that aren’t important. Christ is important, and there are a lot of less important things that can cause you to lose your joy: People don’t do what you want them to do…they don’t show up when you want them to show up…they don’t help when you want them to help…they’ll let you down…even you will let yourself down! If you keep your focus on these things, it will be easy to lose your joy.
Paul is telling us in Philippians that it doesn’t matter what kind of accolades or achievements you have in life - you can have all of that and still be unhappy. Paul points out in Philippians 3:8 that life consists of trade-offs. All of this, and more, was counted as loss so that he may be found “in Christ.”
Jesus said something similar about trade-offs. He told us that we can’t serve two masters. You’ve got to decide what, or who, will be number one in your life. Many of us want Jesus plus something else. Paul says he gave up everything in order to know Christ.
The reasons our priorities are off and our lives are joyless is because we know we have to give up certain things in order to truly live for Christ. We’re afraid that we may, somehow, be restricted. But we can hardly escape the reality. When we come to know Jesus and count Him as Lord, we give up everything. The funny thing is, when we do that, we realize we’ve never had it so good. He takes what we’ve given to Him and He reforms it, reshapes it, adds new meaning to it, and gives it back to us in a new way. Jim Elliot, the missionary martyred by the Auca Indians in Ecuador, said, “He is no fool to give up that which he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose.”
So what is there that you are afraid to give up? What maybe out of priority in your life and even in your ministry? Has a relationship with Christ been replaced by other goals? It’s time to rearrange your priorities - and recapture your joy.
Have a great week…and remember, keep firing for Jesus!