I used to be a little bit intimidated by people with “good” testimonies. You know the ones where the people used to be involved in some gratuitous lifestyle of sin and debochery BUT then Jesus transformed their lives! I love those kinds of stories… but they bear little resembence to mine. I’m a guy who met Jesus when I was 13 and just kinda grew up with Him.
About a week ago I watched an interview with a man who had one of those “good testimonies”. It was pretty graphic and the guy seemed to enjoy telling all the details. When it came time to explain how he he met Jesus and his life changed, he lost his smile and seemed to express remorse. NOT at the way he had conducted his life prior to meeting Jesus but at HOW MUCH he was giving up FOR Jesus! He mentioned it twice…He was actually impressed with himself for what he had given up!
I literally threw my shoe at the TV! (ok so I “figuratively” threw my shoe at the TV!) “Well, bless his snot-nosed, self absorbed, arrogant little heart!” HE is giving up a cushy lifestyle of sin and doing God a favor by following Him? I don’t think so! By the time the interview was over (with the host almost consoling him for his sacrifice, yuck) I was seething.
That is until the Holy Spirit reminded me that I often get impressed with my own sacrifice for Jesus…I just look better doing it. I hide it better than most. That is why the following verses are so piercing to me… Paul writes:
Philippians 3:7-10 whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a]Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,…
GREAT MODEL FOR US TO FOLLOW…
PAUL: Is baptized and called to be an Apostle (Acts 22:14-21) Told he would suffer for Christ’s name (Acts 9:16) People plot to kill him (Act 16:19-25) Angry mob threatens to kill him (Acts 22:22-24) knows that following Christ condemns him to die (1 Corinthians 4:9) Faced depression and dispair (2 Corinthians 1:8-10) Been to prison, recieved 39 lashed 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, shipwrecked 3 times, spent night in open sea once, been in danger from, rivers, bandits, own countrymen, Gentiles, the city, false brothers, known hunger, sleeplessness and cold (2 Cor. 11:23-27) I get a little embarrassed about my own committment to Jesus when I read the Apostle Paul’s passion and selflessness in his faith.