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The Heavenly Arithmetician (Phil 3.7-8)

A Borland

It was our Lord Himself who announced the discriminating principle by which to judge the value of the lives of men and woman. He laid it down as irreversible fact that they who love their life shall lose it; and they who hate their life shall keep it unto life eternal. Governed by such a law written in his heart the converted persecutor declared his intention: "But what things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ".

There are realities in the universe which have evaded the calculations of the most fertile materialistic brains, and which must be reckoned in terms of spiritual values. With an incisiveness of a mind newly awakened from the torpor of unbelief, Saul of Tarsus saw to the end of his initial act of faith, and with a logic that was relentless in its demands he recognised the moral implicates of his capitulation to Christ. He determined to go the whole way through. A man of terrific energy and amazing precision in divine affairs, he was remorseless in his exactions for the gospel’s sake. Unblurred in his vision because he had but one outlook in life, he saw with unwonted clearness that only complete mastery by Christ would satisfy the claims of unexampled love. In order to avoid the peril of a self-centred life he abandoned himself without reserve to the dictates of a new enthusiasm. Henceforth there could be nothing purposeless and capricious in a life based upon such calculations. He shirked no sacrifice, questioned no demands made on his person or time. Intuitively he saw where his initial decision would ultimately carry him, and he determined he would follow it with ardent passion. To the attainment of his end he counted as a minus quantity each activity and ambition which was remote from its objective, and deliberately attempted to nullify every purpose that crossed his line of advance. The smallest detail assumed an unworldly grandeur as it fitted into the changeless scheme of his calculations.

In the apostle’s decision to be whole-hearted for his Master we have a revelation of his attitude to the world that formerly dominated his thoughts and ideals. It is never easy to break with the past, for habits become such a part of our being that only a change, almost revolutionary in its nature, can effect a complete volte face. But, hard as it is thus to break with the past, it is much more difficult to adopt an attitude to life that is directly contrary to that which is regularly maintained by the majority around. So great was the attachment of the Tarsus scholar to Jesus Christ that he accomplished both at one crisis in his career, and definitely declared his intention of thinking of the former manner of life as entirely unproductive of the quality of character which he now knew to be of eternal worth. In his reckoning there was a complete reversal of his world of values. What he once estimated as praiseworthy he now despised, and what he had formally hated he now pursued with a relentless zeal. Deliberating calmly in the light of the immeasurable sacrifice of his Lord and the ultimate future, he concluded that there was only one course open to him, and that course was the renunciation of all that stood in the way of the Master’s glory. The detailed statement of the conflict is not given, but the result evidences the fact that the course adopted was decided on in an hour of deep thoughtfulness and after careful deliberation. Thus the decision was not the outcome of a mere emotional outburst brought on by the excitement of a new joy, but the crisis was an arithmetical process in which, guided by his sense of values and impelled by a recognition of debt to Christ, he determined that Christ should have all.

Is not this the failure of so much that passes muster for Christianity today - that we have not realised that in the acceptance of the blessings bestowed on us by God through His Son we admittedly confess that we have at the same become the bond-slaves of Jesus Christ? We shall do ourselves incalculable service if we pause for a moment and ponder the possibility of having misunderstood the enormous demands that faith in Christ makes on us. He certainly becomes ours, but we, as assuredly, become His. More concerns for the claims of Christ would be evidenced if there was more thoughtfulness concerning the legitimate demands that the gospel makes upon all those who believe its message.



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