Daily Devotion – March 31, 2022 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Philippians 3:4b-14
3:4b If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more:
3:5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
3:7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.
3:8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,
3:11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
3:13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Here is Paul, speaking (as usual) and even bragging about his accomplishments. But in this passage, his bragging is not to impress people with how much he has, for he has willingly given all of it up and counts it as rubbish, because the only thing of value to him is what God has done for him in Jesus Christ.

In this week’s lessons, Mary does a very generous act in gratitude and love for her Savior Jesus, and Paul makes a declaration that is deeply grateful to God for his salvation because of Jesus. No wonder they have been chosen for us to read this week!

In Lent we usually consider giving up something to help u focus on God’s love and sacrifice for us. But these passages teach us that Lent and Jesus’s journey to the cross were really all about abundant and generous love, like the father’s love for his son who had squandered his inheritance. God is so good, Jesus was so generous, and the lessons we are to learn are so pointed toward giving and outpouring of affection that we should not miss the point.

How might we follow these examples and pour out deep affection and love toward people this week, people who definitely might not deserve any such gifts from us but people, nonetheless, who might need that generosity? My guess is that we will not have to look far to figure out where God is calling us to live out our faith in love toward our family, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, or a total stranger.

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us stories of deep generosity for Lent. Help us to find ways to be as generous as we can be to those who need it this week.   Amen.