Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7 RSV)
Because we have been made in the image and likeness of God, we have been made to make a durable difference in the world around us. So the question before you and me today is this: Are we doing it? Are we making a difference that is durable?
To be sure, there are many things that get in the way of making a durable difference in the world around us. One of those things is our tendency to be more focused on pleasing man rather than pleasing God. Make no mistake, people pleasers will never make a durable difference in the world, because they are more concerned with what others think of them rather than what God thinks of them. They find their deepest satisfaction when others are pleased with them and accepting of them. But this was not the life for the apostle Paul, a man who definitely made a durable difference. Paul told one group of early church leaders —
I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)
These are the sentiments of a man who made a dramatic, lasting impact on the world. Now, when we give thought to Paul’s words, we realize that the apostle did not despise life itself. Rather, he firmly believed that a life without Christ as the center and circumference of it had no value. And he was willing to give up everything that the unbelieving world counts as valuable in the faithful and fruitful service of his Lord. Paul assigned no value to his life apart from the life the Lord Jesus had called him to live when Paul (then named Saul) first encountered the risen Savior on the road to Damascus.
Paul’s great goal was to accomplish his course — to finish his “race,” as he often referred to his life. He knew a durable difference would only be made when he crossed the finish line of life, having given all he had and all he was as a testimony to the Gospel of the grace of God. Paul purposed to live a life for something far bigger than just his life. He lived for His Savior. He refused to shrink the size of his life down to the size of his life. Paul lived to please God, not man, and in so doing he made a durable difference as a disciple of Jesus.
Can the same thing be said about you today? Are you making a durable difference by the life you are currently living? The answer, of course, is “Yes” . . . if you are living your life for the glory of God and the good of others. It matters not what your station in life is; you may be an executive or an entry-level laborer, a financier or a farmer, a soldier or a stay-at-home mom. What matters is who you are living for in your current station. When you are living for Jesus and pouring yourself out for the advancement of His kingdom, you can know with certainty that the life you are living is making a durable difference in the world around you.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!