For Christ’s Sake!

“For Christ’s Sake!”

This phrase is often said in disgust, anger, or is used almost meaninglessly in discussions.  Christ’s name is used, but isn’t really considered because if it were, this phrase wouldn’t be used.  Not too long ago I was meditating on Philippians 3 and simply needed to stop at verse 7.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

There is so much in this verse and in the few verses that follow, I wanted to share some thoughts about gains and losses for the sake of Christ.

GAINS

What do we consider gains?  I’ve narrowed down “gains” to three types: physical gains, pleasure gains, and people gains.

  1. Physical Gains

    Physical Gains are essentially any thing (item or object) that is primarily for our benefit.  Others may get some form of benefit, too, but it is primarily for us.  These can include financial gains (income) or property gains (items or actual property), etc.  Physical gains includes things that are tangible or physical.

  2. Pleasure Gains

    Pleasure Gains are more about receiving personal pleasure or “highs” from something.  This can include getting highs from drugs, viewing pornography or other sexual acts, or at minimum, receiving escape (as opposed to highs) from either substances or through entertainment (TV, web, games, Netflix, etc.).  Overall, one would receive an emotional gain or feeling from the pleasure.

  3. People Gains

    People Gains are about receiving praise, glory, acceptance, etc. from other people.  This has more to do with how others see us, and eventually how we feel about ourselves, our worth and identity.

All of these “gains” are things that are for our benefit in one way or another, even if in the end they bite us.  Some may be sinful gains, but other gains may be things we simply enjoy.  At times, these “gains” can act as escapes from emotional hurt or rejection or fuel to move more forward until they need the next high.  But whatever the gain is, we often place it in higher in importance (possibly as an idol) than what God desires.  Whatever the gain, as Paul states, we now ought to consider them “loss.”

LOSS / GARBAGE

What does it mean to lose something?  Not just a temporary loss, but a permanent loss?  Typically, if we lose something, we do so accidentally and then do our best to find it.  We hope it is only a temporary loss.  To consider something loss, however, is to lose it permanently, never to be found or picked up again.  Since it is “considered” loss, this means that although it may be around us, we are to no longer think, dwell, or desire them in our hearts, heads, or hands.  It is to be considered gone forever.  Paul continues in his letter to the Philippians 3 to not only “consider it loss”, but to “consider it garbage.”  What is garbage but waste we no longer have use for.  Whatever was once treasured is to be devalued in the heart and mind to the level of garbage or rubbish, while Christ is to be raised in value and importance.  And why do we do this?  For Christ’s sake!

FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST

This phrase answers the questions “why?” and “who?”.  Why would we possibly consider a gain a loss?  Who do we do this for?  Both are answered, “For Christ’s sake.”  When we gain, we gain for us.  When we lose what was formally a gain, we do it for Christ.  We do it for him because He is greater than me (He>me).  This is similar to the verse that we must “deny ourselves, pick up your cross and follow him” (Mt 16:24).

One of the popular songs in the early 90’s was “Everything I Do, I’d Do It For You” by Bryan Adams.  Though I would doubt that everything we do is for someone else, the sentiment of doing something for someone else’s sake is what love entails.  Doing something for another’s sake is to place a high value on them, essentially stating that they are worth our energy, efforts, and time.  When tempted for personal gains, we may very well need to remind ourselves to do the right thing for the right reason: for Christ’s sake.  We may need to remind ourselves because doing things for ourselves (for my sake) is so natural, yet being conscious of Christ and valuing Christ in our everyday decision to gain for self or lose for Christ is essential in overcoming sin.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Not all gains are bad.  Many gains are actually blessings from God, such as jobs, income, relationships, etc.  Paul is referring to the things of this life (personal, pleasure, people gains) that we either turn to, spend time in, or sinfully do that gets in the way of our relationship with Christ.  If we are to truly love the Lord with all our hearts, mind, and strength and love our neighbors as ourselves (Lk 10:27), we need undivided hearts (Ps 86:11).  In our natural sinful state, our hearts are bent toward selfish gains.  In our spiritual state through Christ, our hearts are bent toward Him.  Yet as both exist, there is a continuous war waging in our hearts and souls (Rom 7, 8), and we need the constant reminders, challenges, and insights to help us rid ourselves of sin and turn ourselves over fully to Christ, for Christ’s sake!