“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.”
“So, what are you giving up for Lent?” That was a common question among kids as I grew up. And the answers were predictable for many of the girls: chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate!
If you’ve ever been a chocolate lover, you know what a sacrifice that can be. And that’s where our understanding of Lent and sacrifice perhaps went astray. You see, while our minds focused on the object of sacrifice, our purpose of sacrifice got lost. So it is with any sacrifice, Lenten or life-long. If we focus on the food, habit, energy, or time that we give up, we will have missed out on the gain.
“Gain?” you ask. “You’re not supposed to gain anything during Lent or from any other act of sacrifice. What kind of sacrifice gains anything?” Only the sacrifice worth making, that’s what kind. Because any sacrifice that is made for God must always focus on the gain: knowing Christ.
Paul was no stranger to sacrifice. In fact, he gave a list of his sacrifices in Philippians 3:1-7. He listed his heritage, his education, and his status and “What is more,” he adds, “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 3:8).
Paul’s entire life, from the moment of conversion, was a Lenten season.
“What are you gaining for Lent?”
Lord, You know what I value. You know what I count as special in my life. Help me view everything — my achievements, people, things, and memories — as rubbish in order that I might gain You. Let Your will be done in my life that I might know You better.