Christ is Gain
John 3:16 (ESV) says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
It’s an incredible story we celebrate each year at Christmas time. The story of how God sent his son, Jesus, to be born as a human child and to live among his people. It’s a story filled with joy, hope, peace and love and our celebrations reflect these things.
Yet, the story is more than just a celebration of Jesus’ birth, because we know that Jesus would grow up and become the sacrifice on the cross for our sins. It is amazing to know that God would sacrifice his own Son for our benefit out of his great love for us. And Jesus willingly gave his own life, but before he did, he taught his disciples that it would also require sacrifice and self-denial to be his followers.
What Jesus calls his followers to is not easy. We do experience many blessings when we follow Jesus, but it is not easy. To live according to the Kingdom of God means to live in such a way as to give up one’s own life for another and for him. This may take a variety of forms, from giving up time or possessions or plans, to setting aside our own desires for the benefit of others if need be. Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice for us, and He calls his disciples to follow His example in our lives.
The Apostle Paul understood what it meant to deny ourselves for the sake of Christ. He had everything as a Jewish religious leader, and yet when Jesus called him, he gave it all up for the cause of Christ. In Philippians 3:7-8 (ESV) Paul writes, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
In being willing to deny ourselves for Jesus’ sake, we actually gain more than we can even imagine. The Apostle Paul knew this. He was willing to give up every earthly accolade and power and position in order to gain Christ.
I am reminded of the gifts people give at Christmas to those they love. For many it is about what they get. But for those who follow Jesus, may it be that as we give to others it serves as a reminder to us of what Christ has given to us and of our willingness to deny ourselves and give our lives in obedience to him.