Diplomas in the Deep
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord (v.8).
In the early 1900s, John went to the US to receive his education. He completed his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in just 5 years. But he was troubled by the question: “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). He ended up enrolling in a theological seminary, only to be confused by professors who had rejected the Bible.
One night, while searching God’s Word for answers, John’s soul was suddenly transformed. But the seminary rejected his conversion experience and had him confined in an asylum! In the 193 days he was there, he read through the Bible 40 times. Upon his release, he returned to China. While on the ship, he threw overboard all of his diplomas and awards—keeping only his doctorate for his father. Sòng Shàng-Jíe (or John Sung) then devoted his life to winning souls among the Chinese throughout Asia.
To the world, John Sung’s actions were inexplicable. But they would have resonated with Paul, another brilliant student. Trained to be an expert in the law by the nation’s foremost legal mind (Acts 22:3), his credentials were unrivaled (Philippians 3:5). But after he met Jesus, his life was radically transformed (Acts 9:1). Instead of becoming a professor, he became “a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of good news” (2 Timothy 2:11) to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
Paul “threw away” all of his diplomas and awards. His rationale? “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless . . . when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage” (Philippians 3:7).
The apostle Paul and John Sung knew with certainty that, as Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Do you?
What did Paul mean when he said, “God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith”? (Philippians 3:9).
What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? What will you change to surrender your whole life to Jesus?