Philippians 3: 4-9 (KJV)
4Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Many of us, especially men identify with and establish our worth in what we do, ie. our careers. In Singapore especially, most of our social status is derived from our economic activity rather than birth. The higher we climb the corporate ladder, the more we feel we are worth, the more highly we think of ourselves and others think of us.
I used to work in a bank but switched to being a hawker about six years ago. At first, I felt awkward if I happened to meet acquaintances at the hawker centre as subconsciously I felt I had taken a step down the social ladder but after a few years, I had gotten used to being a hawker and did not feel self-conscious any more.
However, this is still not ideal as I still measured one's worth according to one's economic contribution. I had merely adjusted or gotten used to my new role as a hawker by rationalizing that I am still earning an income.
During this time of economic downturn, many people have lost their jobs and face difficulty getting a new one, and especially for the man, this severely impacts the way he values himself and the way he sees how others, in particular his wife, value him. Our self-worth is tied to our careers and when the career is no more, the self-worth also disappears accordingly.
This is when family trouble starts. In Japan, the divorce rates among old couples is on the rise partly because the husband can no longer lord over the wife as he has lost his economic power and is considered a nuisance around the house, disrupting the daily routine of the wife.
In Singapore, we have read newspaper reports in the past of cases where the man committed suicide because he could not bear the shame of not being able to provide for the family. The most sensational case was the one of the man who killed himself by jumping into the path of an oncoming MRT train. Later, it was discovered that the man was often jobless (although he tried hard to look for work) and his family could only afford to eat instant noodles for every meal every day, even adding an egg into the noodles is considered a luxury.
There are cases of very senior managers slipping into depression because they lost their jobs in an economic downturn. All these point to one thing that we have to resolve: what is one's true worth?
The apostle Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 3:8-9; he considered all the qualifications and status he achieved in society as dung (or shit, using YOUNG Joshua's terminology) and realized that his only true worth was to be found in Christ.
When we know our true worth as we are in Christ, we will not be shaken by our external circumstances. Our self-worth will be a constant, and not fluctuate according to our level of economic activity. We need to listen to sermons that tell us who we are and what we have in Christ. I recommend Pastor Prince's sermon "Being Christ Occupied and Not Self Occupied".
What are we in Christ? What we do we have in Christ?
1. We are dead to sin but alive to God. (Rom 6:11)
2. We have the free gift of God ie. eternal life. (Rom 6:23)
3. We have no condemnation, and are set free from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:1-2)
4. We are never separated from the love of God. (Rom 8:38-39)
5. We have the grace of God. (1 Cor 1:4)
6. We have the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:30)
7. We are a new creation. (2 Cor 5:17)
8. We are the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
9. We have freedom. (Gal 2:4)
10. We have the blessing of Abraham. (Gal 3:13-14)
There is so much more to learn about who we are and what we have in Christ. Search the Word of God and discover your true worth in Christ.