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Wednesday, March 2, 2016
"Our Rubbish Problem"
Message Summary: Have we considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus? Do we consider them rubbish, that we may gain Christ?
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"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 3:7,8).
All I once held dear, built my life upon,
All this world reveres, and wars to own,
All I once thought gain I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now, compared to this.
The other evening we had two friends, Glen and Connie, over to our place for dinner. Connie works as a customer service representative in one of our companies. Her husband Glen manages the local unit of a large refuse hauling business.
Unless there is a problem most of us give little thought to trash, unless it's our job to empty the trash containers or to carry it out to the road on trash day. Our trash truck comes by once a week. I can normally consolidate our household rubbish to 2 or 3 kitchen-sized trash bags since we also recycle. Trash and recycle day is a cooperative job at our place for Ester and me. Brooksyne gets a break on this one. Ester goes throughout the house collecting all the individual trash baskets and I place the waste from these into the kitchen trash. I seal up the liner and place it along the road for pick up. For me there is a sense of fulfillment in this weekly chore, although by evening we start accumulating trash again!
I don't give a lot of thought to what happens after the truck picks it up but do try to express thanks to the hardworking men who do the hard and often nasty work. As human population grows we have some notorious problems. We are all aware of water shortages and some even predict water wars. But another issue is trash. Humans generate a lot of trash!
Trash, garbage, rubbish. These are not pleasant sounding words but if not properly dealt with we have a growing mess. Perhaps you recall whenever there's a strike in cities how unbeautifying the landscape grows as the trash piles up. They are presently having a huge trash problem in Beirut, Lebanon (see link below for a photo collection of rivers of garbage).
Surely they had to deal with trash in the Bible times but I can't find much information on it. We sure know they didn't have trash trucks! There was a large place outside the city where trash was burned called Gehenna. Perhaps it was similar to our burn barrel growing up in Belton, Missouri. We burned everything, including cans and periodically Dad had to dispose of the ashes, burnt cans and all when the barrel filled up, although I don't know where he took them. I simply don't recall trash trucks coming through our neighborhood growing up and neither does Brooksyne. (She recalls burning it too.)
In college I worked for a time on the campus trash crew and found fulfillment in doing my part to keep the campus clean. We had a real trash truck, probably an older model donated to the school.
Today let us consider a "trash" phrase from our daily Scripture portion, "I consider them rubbish."
This was written by the apostle Paul. In the context he gives his spiritual background and essentially asserts that if anyone can earn righteousness with God through pedigree and works he's the man.
But in his spiritual conversion to Christ he recognizes a dynamic truth: "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).
Notice the phrase "I consider them rubbish". The KJV uses the word "dung". The Greek word is "skubala" which is an hapax legomenon, meaning a word used only once in the entire New Testament.
Please pardon the candor in this definition from a Greek reference but the word skubala "is literally any refuse such as the excrement of animals, off scourings, rubbish, dregs and so figuratively speaks of things that are worthless and detestable. It includes material thrown to the dogs." * Paul is actually using the strongest and most descriptive word at his disposal to indicate his estimation of his past life. I can think of other words that he might have used if he were writing today in English.
J. Vernon McGee comments, "Paul says that since that moment of his conversion he lives for Christ. He has suffered the loss of all things. Jesus Christ is uppermost in his thinking. The things that he used to consider most precious he now considers to be dung —that is strong language! He says he flushes his religion down the drain. He flushes away all the things he used to trust. Now he trusts the Lord Jesus and Him only for his salvation. He was so revolutionized that what had been his prized possession is now relegated to the garbage can!"
Today there may be so much on our minds, somewhat depending on where we live, but also issues common to all of us. Here in America we are in the midst of a nasty election season. Worldwide we have terrorism. These and so many other issues can consume our minds. But let's examine our hearts and place our focus on what matters most.
Have we considered everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus? Do we consider them rubbish, that we may gain Christ?
I sure admit that for me this is an ongoing battle but I do well to regularly consider the challenge and aspire to the Apostle Paul's outlook.
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You,
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness,
and I love you, Lord.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the accolades, merits, relationships and physical treasures I've accumulated in this life are but rubbish when compared to the all surpassing gift of knowing You, receiving Your forgiveness, and experiencing Your redemptive love. Because I am risen with Christ I want to place my affections on things above rather than things on this earth where I am so easily distracted from that which really matters and draws me closer to Your throne. To know You, Father, is to know unfathomable peace and joy beyond measure. I thank You through Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"All I Once Held Dear" Video Graham Kendrick
"All I Once Held Dear" Video Matthew Ward (Takes us back to the early eighties when the musical group "2nd Chapter of Acts" was popular. Matthew sang along with his two sisters)
"Mansion Builder" Video 2nd Chapter of Acts (one of our favorite songs by this group. Note the very tight harmony!)
Beirut's river of garbage in photos
Study notes for Philippians 3:8
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
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