If the heart had a mantelpiece, it would no doubt be lined with all sorts of trophies and treasures. An eclectic collection of our grandest achievements and greatest loves. And this is not necessarily a bad thing.
I know for me there is definitely a family photo (or two) sitting up there. However, I think the issue lies when we lose perspective, when we forget how much these things are really worth, in comparison to the treasure of the cross.
This is not a new tension for the believer. Actually, Paul addresses these issues with the church in Philippi when he wrote…
“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ— God’s righteousness.” (Philippians 3:7-9 MSG)
What Paul is addressing here is a mantelpiece full of pride. The people of Philippi were finding honor and prestige in their Jewish heritage. If anyone, however, was entitled to boast in their ‘credentials,’ it was, of course, Paul…
“You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God’s law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God’s law Book.” (Philippians 3:3-6 MSG)
But for Paul it was all rendered ‘insignificant-dog dung’ (his words not mine) for the sake of knowing Christ. I’m sure this would have been a humbling read for the church in Philippi and hopefully for us as well.
If we each did spring clean on that mantelpiece of the heart, I wonder what we’d find.
Is there anything up there that we shine all too often?
Is there anything that just needs to go?
The song ‘Crowns‘ from the latest Hillsong Worship album, Let There Be Light, gives melodic voice to some of these thoughts…
The greatest of my crowns
mean nothing to me now
For I counted up the cost
And all my wealth is in the cross.
The reality is that the treasures of this world are a fickle thing to wage our trust on. If we find our value in the accolade of others, what will we do if their words fall quiet? If our identity lies in a triumph or a title, what will we be if it’s taken away? There is no peace of mind with riches. There are no guarantees in gold. The only true hope lies in an unassuming emblem of little earthly value but unrivaled heavenly worth. For even the greatest of our crowns and every trophy of our merit is rendered worthless when compared to the wealth that’s in the cross.
Click here for the full Let There Be Light devotional on YouVersion Devotional