Men and women milled about at my husband’s corporate dinner party. My husband, who is a nuclear engineer, was busy talking in technical jargon with his coworkers. I was playing the role of being the dutiful housewife and standing by his side. “What do you do, Lisa?” his friends occasionally asked to which I replied, “I’m a stay-at-home mother.” I have been a stay-at-home mother and a housewife for eighteen years, and I have loved it. But standing there in the midst of engineers and corporate executives, I felt less-than. What I really wanted to shout to them was, “I’M A NUCLEAR ENGINEER, TOO!!”
Sometimes we are in situations where we feel “less than” those around us. We want to shout out our accomplishments and say, “I’m important, too.” Or perhaps you wish that you even had an accomplishment to tell others about. Maybe you never went to college. Maybe you’ve not had a successful career – in fact, you’ve not been able to hold down a job in years. Perhaps you didn’t even make it out of high school. Or it could be that you, too, like me, are “just a housewife.”
It is human nature to want to be successful and to rest on our laurels. We live in a society that rewards men in ties and women in high-powered high heels. Recently I spent some time studying the life of the Apostle Paul in the Bible. In Philippians 3, he lists all of his accomplishments. He was from a prominent race. He was ahead of others in his religion. He had out-performed his contemporaries. He was well-educated. He had a proven track record. He excelled in personal righteousness.
Then he does something surprising. He goes on to say that all of these advantages were really losses or liabilities to him….they were, in fact, disadvantages. He goes on to say that he considers everything in his life to be loss compared to knowing Jesus. He sums up by saying that he counts all things in his life as TRASH so that he could know Jesus fully and intimately.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish …. that I may know Him. Phil. 3: 7-10a
God gently asks me….”Lisa, can you do the same?”
“I don’t know, God, I worked pretty hard for that nuclear engineering degree. There were lots of late nights studying, some all-nighters, and I even gave up a spring break to do homework,” I reply.
“Can you count it as loss, Lisa? Can you see that your education is really something that puffs up your pride and makes you feel important, when really you need Jesus just as much as the next person? What you think is an accomplishment is actually an impediment to knowing me.”
What about you? Are you “resting on your laurels” in some area of your life? Is there something you want everyone to know about you so that you will feel like you are on equal footing with them? Count it as loss, my friend. If you can, like Paul, consider your advantages to really be your disadvantages, then you will come to know Jesus like Paul did. Knowing Jesus is our ultimate goal, not wowing our friends with what we’ve done.
God, help us to see where we are relying on our background, our education, our success, our social standing, our church membership, and even our politics instead of relying on you for our self-worth. Let us see that relying on other things to feel important actually creates barriers between us and you, because we are not fully dependent on you. Teach us how to count all things to be loss, and even consider them trash, so that we can come to know Jesus in a greater measure.
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