We all want to make a good impression and show people our best side. For me, this desire often manifests as focusing on my past successes—the achievements and victories that I think represent my finest qualities. After all, that pesky voice of pride likes to whisper that I’ve done some pretty impressive things. Even if I don’t voice these self-satisfied thoughts, they come to mind far too frequently. Essentially, this mentality declares “my past accomplishments are what define and guide me.” However, Paul writes some eye-opening words on this very topic.
I once thought these things were valuable, but I now consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
That impeccable resume Paul once thought valuable … is worthless. When compared to Christ’s display of overwhelming grace and love as he hung on the cross, our promotions, performances, and creations mean nothing. But Paul doesn’t stop there.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.
Though it’s initially shocking to hear our feats called “garbage,” this verse reminds us that knowing Jesus is the true treasure. I’m not sure about you, but for me, it’s uncomfortable to set aside the (false) glory of my past successes. It feels like taking off the training wheels, and it is unnerving to wobble as we learn to trust who grace says we are—and to whom we belong. Yet, verse 9 reminds us that we are free to set aside our accomplishments, because it’s our faith in Christ that makes us righteous—not the grueling effort to be impressive.
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
When our treasure lies in worldly accomplishments, our hearts reside there. If we reject the flimsy rewards of our own achievements to embrace the identity and direction God gives, we store up treasure in heaven. Notable accomplishments aren’t inherently wrong, but it is wrong to let them define you.
You are more than your impressive resume, large income, unique ability, or beautiful face. You are worthy because you are a child of God—and that is where you should seek your identity, value, and direction. Purposefully surrendering the value you have placed on your achievements will provide the freedom necessary to grow your faith.
Do you look to your achievements for your worth and guidance? If so, why?
Which past successes are you hanging on to that should be surrendered to God?
Make a list of the accomplishments that you allow to define or guide you. Then, prayerfully surrender them to God.
Dear Father, thank you for giving your Son so that I could be saved through faith. You have blessed me with skills and talents to accomplish wonderful things for your kingdom, but I confess that I sometimes place too much value in them. Help me look to you alone for my identity and direction. Amen.
This post was written by Sarah Pagel, a first-time contributor to the LivingitOut.
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