Can you suffer the loss of all things, your house and everything in it, the things you may have spent years or even decades to accumulate, your friends, even your immediate family? What about all those years of training you may have spent learning your chosen trade, are willing to walk away from all that, what of your self-esteem, are you willing to live with the rumors and lies that may begin to surround you, what are you willing to lose for the sake of Christ.
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as dung, that I may win Christ.” (Phil. 3:8) Would you count any one of the items we mentioned above, or anything else that you hold dear, as lost for a cause not worthy when that cause is Christ Himself, or would you be able to say as Paul did that they were as dung, completely useless to you. These statements are easy to say, and nearly every Christian would say of course I could, of course He is worth the loss of everything, until, it is sad to say, that loss occurs, and then the truth of who we are at that point in our lives is allowed to shine through.
What we have mentioned here are the extremes, close family members who do not understand your growing conviction to draw closer to the Lord in the studying and obedience to His Word, and leave that closeness behind, friends you have had for years who have stopped trying to draw your attention to them, for they have come to the realization that you are no longer the person you once were. We have yet to mention the small, insignificant items that creep into our lives every day, the ones that we still believe matter, the ones the world has called important and relevant.
If there is one notable difference between those who still fear to let go of the things of this world, those items that will remain in this world after they have left it, and those that have learned the better path, it is that these have understood the truth of the value between the two. They have traded the accumulation of material possessions and the amount of time required to attain them for treasures that will neither rust nor decay, (Matt. 6:19-21) they have learned that the love of those who have not understood that Christ is always to be placed first in our lives was feigned in the first place, and those who have chosen to remain on the path with them are their true treasures both here and in the eternal life to come. There are many who have not come to the knowledge yet that to lose all for Christ is to gain everything, that He is worth more than everything that this world has to offer. But it is not so much the things of the world that these other individuals desire not to lose, nor even their friends and family, even though it would be grievous to them initially, it is their own selves, the knowledge that no longer will they be able to experience the things of the world that have brought them happiness and contentment within themselves. They are unable to see yet the loss as gain.
As we draw closer to our Lord, we begin to see the things of the world for what they truly are, transitory, fading and useless to our eternal home. The continuing accumulation of material possessions, trophies, certificates for our walls and accolades from those in the world seems to become less and less important, those things that we valued from our past begin to lose their glow, their hold on us. The Word of God becomes more important than the words of family and friends, especially those who are still under the influence of materialism and the lies of Satan that their own value is what is important, and that unless we are happy and content, we cannot serve the Lord to our fullest capabilities. To suffer the loss of all things means just that my friends, all things, and each and every one of them by our own free will must be counted as dung.
Please do not misunderstand the intentions of our Lord here, He is more than likely not going to burn your house down to make you follow Him, the question is, do you need your house to be destroyed, do you need everything in your life taken away from you before you would follow Him, completely and fully. There are many wealthy and even well-off Christians serving our Lord, those with many possessions who have learned to count these items in their lives as dung even while they are still in custody of them. It is one of the most common misconceptions surrounding this verse and other verses like it, that our Lord wants us to live on the street, to live a life of poverty for His sake, that we should sell all we have, give it to the poor, and become poor ourselves. Can we count all things as loss, as dung, and still retain possession of them, yes of course, for it is the heart that our Lord sees, but it is our heart, and we are responsible for its actions and its intentions.
If the one and only desire of your heart is not Christ and Him only, then whatever item you lose, any individual that is more important to you than Him, even unto your own life, if you do not count them as dung, you will not have the opportunity to gain what is most important. Are we to enjoy the blessings that He has given us, yes of course, but the extent of that experience is the question. We must always remember, it is the heart that our Lord looks at, (1st Sam. 16:7) and it is within our own hearts that we will be able to see the truth of who we really are in Him. Have you ever seen families that have lost all of their possessions in a fire, tornado or other disaster, their reactions after the first events of the tragedy are over is usually one of gratitude that they and those they love are safe and still together, for the moment at least, the loss of material possessions are counted as nothing in comparison to the lives that are still intact. The grief of losing a loved one instantly in an accident is different than when one is called home after a long illness or even old age, and so is how we should look at the words of Paul when he said he counted all of these things as dung. Do not think of this growth in faith as something that will occur overnight, that is not how the Holy Spirit works within us, He is gracious, merciful, and very patient, and most of all understanding towards His children who truly desire to serve Him with all of their hearts.
There is an incredible difference between losing something, or even someone, and freely giving up that which we hold dear. Paul was willing to lose all for Christ’s sake, and I mean this in no disrespectful way whatsoever, but he did have an advantage that no one I have ever met has had. Paul received everything about the Lord from Christ Himself, (Gal.1:12) he was taken up into heaven itself, (2nd Cor. 12:2) and though this should not be an excuse for us in any way, it was an advantage to him, but we have something that he did not have, the complete Word of God. It can make it somewhat more difficult, but not impossible, for although I personally have not met anyone who has had Jesus Himself into their house to have dinner with them, take heart, for Christ said, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” To freely give up, to count as nothing, within our own hearts what we are allowed to keep is the pinnacle of counting everything as dung, to come to the truth of the revelation that Christ alone is the only one in our lives that is worthy of losing all that we have, all those we love, even our own lives, is the beginning of the willingness to suffer the loss of everything.
Consider here our Lord when He walked here on this earth, He fed thousands, but when He stopped feeding them, they quit following Him, many more left His side when He said unto them “Unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you have no life within you.” (John 6:53) Eleven followed Him, until many came with staves and torches to take Him away, only our Lord knew completely what it meant to lose everything for the Father, if there has been one man who ever walked this earth who knew the true meaning of forsaking all for others, to suffer the loss of all, it was our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is for Him that we are asked to do the same. Do you want, as Paul said, to win Christ?
We suffer with Him, my friends, when we truly realize within ourselves that He is the only one worth suffering the loss of all for.