We all want to be confident, right? The more confident we feel, the happier we are so we are all looking for ways to increase our confidence. In my last blog post I discussed that one of the places we turn to build our confidence is to our bodies and our self-image. In California especially we are extremely health and body conscious and will go to great lengths to keep our bodies in optimum condition. The problem with this, of course, is that if we rely on our bodies for our confidence they will at some point let us down because our bodies simply weren’t built to last forever. So while you should take care of your body, that’s not the best place to go to increase your confidence. The other common place to look for a confidence boost is in our accomplishments, in what our resumes say.
How much of our confidence comes from what we’ve done? How much does it depend on jobs and GPA’s and annual salary, and awards? If we are honest, we would have to say a lot of it does.
How’d you like to have these things on your resume:
- Graduate of Harvard
- Current job- CEO of Qualcomm
- Graduated Summa Cum Laude
- Grew company from 20 million in annual sales to 100 million in annual sales
- Published in industry magazine as top ten in my field.
I’m guessing you’d feel pretty confident if you could tell potential employers any one of those things, right? Well, don’t.
Check out what Paul had to say in Philippians verse 4:
4If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Philippians 4-6
Remember: times change, people don’t and even back in Biblical times people were increasing their confidence by flaunting their resumes and this was Paul’s resume. It might not mean much to you, but to the religious leaders of that day this was impressive. He had a long history of following God all the way down to the 8th day after birth. But this is how important those resume points were to him:
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. Philippians 3:7-8
Let me define a word for you here. Can you guess what Paul is referring to when he talks about “garbage”? Let me give you a few hints. If there were bumper stickers on Roman chariots they would read “Garbage Happens.” If a Jewish person was in a difficult spot, it could be said that “they were up garbage creek without a paddle.” Are you getting my drift? Now, understand, Paul was a God-fearing man, so he probably wouldn’t normally use obscenities but he wanted to make sure we knew what he thought about people who placed their confidence in their impressive resumes: It’s all dung. When it comes to judging the success of our lives, resumes are worthless.
[bctt tweet=”Bible Fun: If there were bumper stickers on Roman chariots they would read “Garbage Happens.” ” username=”canyon_springs”]
Why is that? Why would he be so harsh? Here’s why: When we base our confidence on what we have accomplished, we eventually end up in this spot (tell me if this sounds familiar): “I can do it.” “I’ve got this.” “I’m in control.” “I don’t need anyone else and I certainly don’t need God.” Paul had the resume but he knew it was all garbage because the resume kept him from true reliance on God. All those victories were considered loss.
What’s on your resume that you base your confidence on? Your job? Your rank in the company? Your children’s accomplishments? God says that all those things are loss; that there is only one place you can put your confidence that won’t let you down:
Confidence in Christ
I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ. 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:9-14
Let me point out a few phrases in this passage that are worthy of attention: The first is this, “not that I have already obtained it.” Paul was a pretty spiritual guy, wouldn’t you say? He wrote half of the New Testament after all. Just face it, he’s more spiritual than you. It’s not even close. He even found a way to somehow rejoice in the Lord in jail. But despite all that, he didn’t think he had arrived. He still had work to be done. So much so that in the next line he says, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” Twice he says he hasn’t made it yet. If Paul never made it to spiritual perfection, we certainly haven’t either.
Listen folks, the good news is God isn’t asking for perfection, just progress. If you’ve been to my services at my church, Canyon Springs, you probably know that I had a rough background growing up. My parents were always fighting. Then they both became Christians. That didn’t mean the fighting stopped. But over time that percentage went from 95% fighting to about 35% fighting. That’s progress. God never expects perfection, just progress.
Temporary vs. Eternal
If you have a Bible, underline this phrase in the Philippians passage cited above: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Our citizenship is in Heaven. Paul is challenging us to focus on the future. Focus on what is to come. Focus on the eternal. Why does he do that? Simple. Because most of the things we focus on can be put in one word. Temporary. We invest our emotions in these things because when we get them they give us a little thrill but that thrill quickly fades. And so will our cars and our homes and our clothes and our GPA and our bodies. Think about it:
- Work- temporary
- House- temporary
- Grades- temporary
- Money- temporary
Temporary. It’s the word you never hear in commercials. It’s a word you never hear when our soul is tempted to do something really fun, but that you know is wrong. None of these things will make it into eternity. They are all temporary. There is only one thing in this world that is not temporary. One thing that is eternal. People.
- My spouse is eternal
- My kids are eternal
- My friends are eternal
- Our business reports and computers are temporary, but the people that we work with are eternal
Our bodies are temporary, yes, but our relationships are eternal because they will continue beyond this world. So if you spend your life pursuing things that are temporary, you will spend it ungrateful and unfulfilled. But if you pursue the eternal, your relationships with God and with other people, your life will be filled with thanksgiving and gratitude. Your life will be full. It will be joyous. And your confidence will rise.