The Spiritual Mind - Cont'd.
Things have no power over us, and therefore we can be free from them, but
only if we more greatly desire the things of God.
In some ways, this is one of the most difficult truths to apply. We are valued
by what we have. This was certainly true in the Bay Area, where the labels
you wore, the car you drove, the house you owned all said something about
who you are to both others and - even more disconcerting - to yourselves.
We see this to be the case when we, as men, are talking about what we do
and our positions in our organizations. Men, when asked who they are, inevitably
talk about what they do for a living. Again this is natural, because this
is what we are taught to believe from the cradle. But who we are is defined
by our relationship to the Lord, not what we've done - rather, what He's
Historically women tended to define themselves by their children, but now
in many cases they have fallen into the same trap as men and define themselves
by what they do. Women are finally free; they have the same rights as men
to kill themselves by smoking, or ulcers on the job or trying to keep up
with the Jones.
Generally people don't control things; instead, things control people. People
are controlled by the need to protect their material possessions, to protect
their social positions and trying to protect their self possession.
To experience joy, then, means to experience freedom, in this instance freedom
from things.Note we are not talking freedom from the absence of things. The
issue isn't what we have, tangible or intangible - but who is in control,
things or the Holy Spirit.
The message Paul is giving to people here is a message that is absolutely
hated by the world.He is demanding people give up their self-righteousness.
They must realize they have no worth separate from God. God loves them and
has died to save them - and therefore desires them to have His righteousness,
the only righteousness that can save.
Certainly we have intrinsic worth, due to the fact we are created in the
image of God, even if in us that image is depraved. But this worth will not
save. Only the shed blood of Christ can save. And with our salvation can
come the recognition that all we have in ourselves is nothing compared to
what God desires for us.Then we can truly find freedom from things.
The answer to the problem of things, as a joy stealer, is to accept and live
in the truth that the greatest things in the world are those God desires
for us. And, as we seek them, we will be freed to release those things we
have allowed to control us to the Lord.
Hear one more time the words of Paul:
" ...whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for
the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to
the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake
I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain
Christ" (Philippians 3:8).