The Gospel Budget
October 22, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Do you work with a budget? Many who work with a calendar year budget-year are making plans for 2016. For our government that means heated debate, threats of vetoes, and give-and-take bargaining. In your home it might mean "copy-and-paste" last year's budget if no significant changes are on the horizon.
Every budget, though, has gains and losses, or profits and expenses. A good budget aims to keep expenses less than the profits, otherwise debt increases. I'm not an accountant or an economist, but I understand these simple principles.
Now, imagine for your home budget, if all that you count on for gain became a loss on your ledger. I'm not saying the gain merely disappears, but it actually reverses and becomes a negative on your budget, on top of your "regular" losses. For most of us, that would become an insurmountable debt.
Paul uses this kind of "economic" language to speak about his relationship with God. Before meeting Christ, Paul operated with a normal gains and losses budget with God. He understood that his sin added up in his losses column. He had confidence, however, that his gains far outweighed his losses, more than anyone else. He says in Philippians 3:4, "If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more." He then lists out his various means of gain that he trusted in for his acceptance with God... Things like his birth family, his education, his status in society, his ability to keep commandments, his spiritual fervor, etc.
Paul then makes explicit his "economic" understanding of these things in verse 7: "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." In meeting Christ, his entire budget ledger was flipped upside down. His "gains" did not merely nullify to zero, but actually counted against him as losses. And he celebrates this debt! How?
"For the sake of Christ."
Paul came to believe, and celebrates here in Philippians 3, that our only positive gain before God is Christ. We add nothing. We contribute nothing. We gain nothing in ourselves or from the world. Christ is everything and outweighs all of our debt.
The picture is not a fork in the road as if every day we have the choice between Christ and the world (or self or _________ [fill in the blank]) for pursuing our righteousness, our fulfillment, our joy, our pleasure, etc. The picture is a one way road, where Christ is the only way forward, and everything else pushes us backwards.
This is gospel-budgeting. Everything we bring to the table is insurmountable loss and debt. Christ is the all-sufficient gain. May we, with Paul, suffer the loss of all things, in order that we may gain Christ!