I was never really a bad kid. Just saying that, though, negates the entire statement I think. I have generally been a “I’ve done what I’ve done” kinda guy – I do what ever it is I’m going to do and I’m happy with whatever the outcome is, good or bad. I’ve changed recently (for the better – ask my wife or my boss!), but the majority of my life was spent exerting my own will. And again, the outcome was either spectacular brilliance, or utter failure.
When I’d have one of my “spells” there were many people on hand to let me know just how bad it really was. I started calling those people “Holy Spirit” since they were trying to make me feel convicted for messing up, but they were also there to knock me off my horse when I did something really good and started getting a big head or bragging.
A long time ago, I was a youth minister in a small church in my college town. It was a wonderful experience – and the ministry grew beyond the means of the church to support it. Other youth guys from bigger churches were asking me all the time what I was doing, and I was even interviewed once by a mega church guy. Maybe it was for a project or something. Probably. But either way, I was thinking, “Wow look at me! I’m the bomb!”
I came to the conclusion it was all about me, and forgot all about Jesus. I still preached, but it was showboating. I forgot where my source was, and (in case you didn’t see this coming) I lost everything. And when I say everything, I spent one Christmas in a broken down 1971 Buick GS behind a gas-n-sip in the middle of Nowhere, OK. I literally lost everything – ministry, home, vehicle, family.
Can I just say one thing? It was worth it. It was worth doing it my way, on a small scale, and losing what is now comparatively just a little, because now I know. I know it’s not about me one little bit, and when I am serving on church staff again, I will not be that guy. I will never again forget who it was that saved me and called me, I know who I owe everything to, I know who empowers me to fulfill the calling. HINT: It ain’t me.
There’s someone in the bible who did it right the first time, bless his heart. The Apostle Paul – so many great accomplishments, so many reasons to boast, and he did boast, but never in himself or anything he did.
Still, Paul probably had more reason to boast in his accomplishments than any other person. It was his efforts and his willingness to follow God’s plan for him that took the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Even before that, though, Paul had every reason to be proud of who he was. He was the model Jew, and the model Roman citizen. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, which was the tribe of the first king of Israel, with whom he also shared the name “Saul.”
The thing Paul would have been the most proud of, though, was that he was a Pharisee. The Pharisees prided themselves on the way they obeyed the Law of God. Nobody was as close to God as the Pharisees, or so they thought.
This is the life Paul had chosen for himself, before Jesus found him on the road one day and ruined everything. And this is the life we often choose for ourselves. We get so wrapped up in our accomplishments and our own holiness that we forget who called us. We forget that God is the source – the source of life, the source of everything. We rely on our own power, and we fail again and again and don’t understand why.
We should be like Paul! We should lay our desires aside and we should put no faith in our own accomplishments. Instead, we should boast in Christ and what he has done for us!
Read Philippians 3:1-6
Why do you think Paul says in verse 3 that we can have no confidence in our own efforts?
What reasons does Paul give for being able to have confidence in himself? Are these valid reasons? What is the reason for your confidence?
What motivates Paul to boast in Christ? What has Christ done for you that is worth boasting about?
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now?