For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 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; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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 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. Philippians 3:3-9

When I was a 4th and 5th grade teacher, my school always took part in the Ameritowne curriculum. It was a wonderful way to teach students a little financial and economic savvy, culminating in a visit to Ameritowne, where students had jobs, ran the town, and created or sold goods and services. It was a blast, to say the least!

As part of the curriculum, my students had to take a “Risk Analysis” to discover if they were low, moderate, or high risk takers. Many of them discovered that it was one thing to talk a good game, and something else entirely when they had to put those words into motion.

There is no such thing as a risk-free life. I think God made this a reality intentionally. There needs to be some risk, some tension in life to move us from point A to point B. Risk is the vessel by which we grow both personally and spiritually. Some risks are relatively easy, while others are much harder, and feel more like a death to desire.

Spiritual growth is not a passive activity. It takes intentionality and risk. The potential for making a mistake is real, but even in those mistakes we grow. Risk itself is inescapable. To choose not to risk is to actually choose to risk an atrophy of the soul.

Paul, in this chapter, has a pretty cushy resume. In some ways, Paul really did have it all. He was born to the right family, had the right job, and did all the right things. Yet, when God got a hold of Paul, he had to make a choice. Stay in his comfort zone, or risk all he knew to have more of Christ?
Paul’s choice is ours. While we may not have to give up everything we have, we are asked to choose between constantly playing it safe, or risking what we have for what is even better. Will we just talk a good game, or will we put our money where our mouth is?

For 2021, what are you willing to risk in order to grow spiritually? Perhaps you need to stretch yourself and give more. Maybe you need to spend more time serving, reading or in prayer. Maybe the risk is to not have so much on your plate. Think and pray over what you can risk this week in order to grow.

By Sheila Rennau

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