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Loss, Gain, and the Knowledge of God


If we really knew God, how would our attitudes be affected? How would we think of the difficulties and losses we suffer? How should knowing God affect our thoughts of these things? J. I. Packer writes of the Apostle Paul’s example to us.

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[Few of us would] ever naturally say that in the light of the knowledge of God which we have come to enjoy, past disappointments and present heartbreaks, as the world counts heartbreaks, don’t matter. For the plain fact is that to most of us they do matter. We live with them as our “crosses” (so we call them). Constantly we find ourselves slipping into bitterness and apathy and gloom as we reflect on them, which we frequently do. The attitude we show to the world is a sort of dried-up stoicism, miles removed from the “joy unspeakable and full of glory” which Peter took for granted that his readers were displaying (1 Pet 1:8 KJV). “Poor souls,” our friends say of us, “how they’ve suffered.” And that is just what we feel about ourselves!

But these private mock heroics have no place at all in the minds of those who really know God. They never brood on might-have-beens; they never think of the things they have missed, only of what they have gained.

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ,” wrote Paul, “what is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him. . . . I want to know Christ” (Phil 3:7–10). When Paul says he counts the things he lost rubbish, or dung (KJV), he means not merely that he does not think of them as having any value, but also that he does not live with them constantly in his mind: what normal person spends his time nostalgically dreaming of manure? Yet this, in effect, is what many of us do. It shows how little we have in the way of true knowledge of God.

—J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, 1993), 25.



Posted 2008·10·10 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Contentment · J I Packer · Knowing God · Persecution/Suffering

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