Forthright Magazine

Physical loss for spiritual gain

In his sermon yesterday Rusty Hills examined Matthew 5.38-42, specifically the phrase, “Turn the other cheek,” and the surrounding context. When he asked what Jesus was really saying, one of his three points was this: “Be willing to accept physical loss to accomplish spiritual gain.” As support, he cited 1 Corinthians 6.7 and 9.19.

This is an significant and essential thought for the modern church to consider. Rusty said we mustn’t value comfort. Shortly before that, dovetailing exactly with his point, I had jotted down what modern churches want, as a general rule:

– Comfort for our bodies;
– Convenience for our time:
– Confirmation of our biases.

So many of today’s congregations are working and building exactly for these three values. Rusty’s words need to be proclaimed throughout the Kingdom.

By his citations of the two texts in 1 Corinthians, “spiritual gain” can be understood in the broadest possible way. The gain is not for selfish spiritual progress, but for the progress of the gospel, Philippians 1.12, and the edification of the body of Christ, 2 Corinthians 12.15.

Jesus said the church is in the fight for souls. He suffered extreme physically loss for them. Shall we not also do the same?

Many congregations are asking how to grow. They scour the denominational offerings for ideas, programs, and approaches. The answer, however, is quite simple: Be willing to suffer. Is the willingness present? What is it we want, really? Hardship seems not to be a part of our spiritual DNA.

“Physical loss for spiritual gain.” It is God’s way. Is it our way?


J. Randal Matheny
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