“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:8
Have you ever taken an “open-book” test? At first blush they seem like a piece of cake. You can actually have the book open during the test! No late-night cramming. No last-minute frenzy to memorize facts and figures. Count me in!
But astute students quickly learn that open-book tests are not always as simple as one might think. An open-book test has a much higher standard of accountability. If you have the answers right there in front of you, then there’s no excuse for a wrong answer—it was right there in your open book!
As I look through Scripture, I’m struck by the fact that the tests God brings into our lives are always “open-book.” We don’t need to cram or study for them, we simply need to open God’s Book and apply it to each situation. The prophet Micah says it plainly: “He has showed you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6:8). God’s instructions for our lives are clearly and lovingly outlined in His Word, and each test is an opportunity to put our faith and allegiance into action.
When we consider our allegiance to the Lord, let me suggest a few questions that might appear on His open-book exam for our lives:
1. Would you still love and serve God, even if He hadn’t made promises to bless and reward you? In other words, is your love and loyalty to Him based on what He does for you, or is it based on your love for Him whether He ever does anything for you or not? If you open the Book, you’ll see that Job passed the test because he knew that his God was worthy of his worship regardless. As he so boldly announced, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). Reading about the absolute worthiness of our God in the open Book will help you pass the test.
2. If God required your prized possessions, would you place them on the altar for Him? Think about it. What’s more important to you, the gifts that God has given you, or the Giver of the gifts? I can’t consider this question without my mind racing to the “open-book” picture of Abraham on top of a mountain with his son, Isaac, ready to offer up what was most precious to him—his son—a gut-wrenching demonstration of God’s absolute supremacy in his life (Hebrews 11:17-19).
3. If He required what brings you pleasure, would you give it up for Him? I’m not speaking here of illicit pleasures that are outside the boundaries of God’s righteous rules. I mean legitimate pleasures like peace, affluence, and significant friendships. Can you open the Book and say with Paul that you count the best things in your life as rubbish compared to the joy of Jesus in your life?
The apostle Paul seemed to have a good handle on this. For him, walking with Jesus wasn’t about scoring points toward receiving heavenly promises. Life was not about the accumulation of possessions or the pursuit of pleasure. It was about Jesus, and Him alone. Writing to the Philippians, he gave an open-book assessment of his life—a long list of worldly accolades and successes followed by the right answer: “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
Now it’s our turn. Regardless of the test you face, open the Book and let Jesus help you ace it!
-What has motivated your obedience to Jesus? Has it been the character of Christ and gratitude for His grace, or has it been a desire to receive the blessings He has promised?
-Have any possessions (whether you own them or simply long for them) begun to hinder your pursuit of Jesus as your first priority? How can you put those possessions in their rightful place?
-How much of your life is spent in pursuing pleasure? What would it look like if you truly considered “everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus”?