The Joy of Knowing Christ!
Last week we looked at the joy of service and how thankfulness will help ward off one of the biggest joy zappers of all – grumbling and complaining. Hopefully, you picked up on how grumbling and complaining can come from either a prideful or doubting heart because this week we are going to look at another joy zapper and that is a lack of confidence in Christ. A lack of confidence in Christ can also come from pride –believing and trusting in yourself, or it can come from doubt – not believing in him or doubting that he is faithful.
Paul starts this chapter telling the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. He knows he is writing the same thing over again but he doesn’t care that he is being repetitious because he knows it is a safe guard for them. Paul is affirming once again that salvation comes from the Lord and the gospel of peace that he brings. This will also be a safeguard to us so we don’t fall into legalism – which means we will start to think our good works or good behavior will save us. This is what some of the people in the early churches were doing. They were putting confidence in the flesh, meaning they were confident in their rituals, their works, and their own self-righteousness.
In Philippians 3:3-6 Paul explains that he has many reasons to brag. As a Pharisee, he strictly followed the law and rituals. The Pharisees during that time followed the law to ridiculousness by even giving a tenth of their spices (Matthew 23:23). They put so many rules and regulations on people beyond what God had asked that they ended up twisting God’s Word and elevated themselves in the process (Matt 15:1-9; 23:13-15). But now, because of Christ, Paul sees that all of that is nothing but garbage compared to knowing Christ. He puts no confidence in any of it. He has put his total confidence in Christ.
We can also fall into the same trap the Pharisees fell into when we stake our confidence in ourselves, our rituals or our good works. I can’t tell you how many times a Christian brother or sister has told me they hope to go to heaven and that they hope they are good enough. I always tell them, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with Christ and what he has already done! Although I also hope for heaven, I am confident that is my home! Not because of me or anything I have done, but because of the amazing, priceless gift God has given me by His grace and through faith. He took a sinner like me and placed His Holy Spirit within me. Because of that and only that, I am now good enough for heaven. And the same is true for you and anyone who believes! Now that is amazing grace! That is the gospel! All praise and glory to God!
This grace doesn’t give us a license to keep sinning; instead it changes us from the inside out. He gives us a new heart and out of that new heart flows a life that is ever reaching to know Christ and the power of His resurrection (Eze 36:26; Phil 3:8-9).
Confidence in Christ comes as we seek to know him through His Word and as we see him working in our lives through thankful hearts. Confidence in Christ also comes when we remember all he has done to bring us through tough times. We put a lot of confidence in everything else in life. We put confidence in money, our abilities, our status, our education, our experience, the status and experience of others and our own talents or the talents of others. So when something good happens, we often give praise to someone or something else besides God. We forget so easily that every good and perfect gift is from God and flowing from him (James 1:17). In our tough times we often wait until we have exhausted all of those other things before we finally come to our knees before God to put our confidence in him. We wait until the doctors are stumped, the treatment doesn’t work, the business fails, the marriage is falling apart, and the kids are too far gone before we turn to God. What God wants us to do is put our confidence in HIM first and foremost. Confidence in Christ comes from knowing him.
Take a minute to think about the people in your life. Who is it that you can totally trust to be there for you no matter what?
Do you have that person or people in mind? Then let me ask you a couple questions about them.
- Would you say you know that person(s) well or just a little?
- How long have you known them?
- What do you know about them?
- What makes them trustworthy?
- Do you have an experience with them that makes you see them as trustworthy?
I am going to make some assumptions – I would guess you know them pretty well. You probably have had them in your life for a while. It is likely you have been through some situations with them and they have proved to be faithful and trustworthy. I would bet you also know something about their character, what they value, what is important to them and how they conduct themselves in life. Chances are the relationship is something you both have invested in – and that is one of the reasons you trust them.
Am I right?
There is joy in knowing Christ because as we know him, we can have confidence in him. Our faith grows as our knowledge grows – just like any relationship.
There are really two kinds of knowing. We can know of people like obscure friends on Facebook or a celebrity on a magazine cover or we can know someone intimately, like a friend or family. God’s Word tells us we are both his friends and family. Closer than anyone can be!
Just as you trust those you know, the more we know Christ the more we will trust him. The best way to know Christ is through the Word of God, prayer, and being in fellowship with other believers who know him and are seeking to know him. It also comes as we see him working in our hearts and lives.
Knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection will help us live into a life where we rely on Christ first. We will know his resources are endless, we will trust that he is faithful. We will live as if he is our main provider, healer and sustainer – not all other things.
Imagine how differently we all would go through the trials of life if we knew God. If we knew his character, his love, and his faithfulness. Do you think it would be possible for you to have joy in all circumstances if you had confidence in Christ?
This is why knowing Christ was more important than anything else to Paul. Every other thing that he could rely on was considered junk to knowing Christ.
In His grip,