2001-02-05 - Loss For Gain
Matthew 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as you heavenly Father is perfect.
There is a story in Germany of a young painter who finished a painting that was done so well that even his master could not suggest how to improve it. He was very proud of his work and admired it greatly. In fact, he was so proud of it that he neglected to continue to paint. The more he looked at it, the more he was convinced that he would never paint a better painting.
One morning he came to the painting studio and found that his master had painted completely over his masterpiece. He was very upset and asked why the master had ruined his greatest work. "The picture was very good," said the master, "but it had become a hindrance to you. You had ceased to admire art in your picture, you were admiring only yourself. Take your pencil, and try again. Cease to regret the sacrifice; greatness of soul must be yours, if you would hope to reproduce it on the canvass." The student obeyed, and the next painting he finished made him famous. He had now not only mastered his art, but also himself.
It may happen that you suffer loss at some time or another. Likely, we all will suffer loss at some point. It could be that you wake up one day and begin to ponder all the years you have wasted by misusing your time. It could be the loss of someone who is close to you in death. It could be that all or many of your possessions get destroyed in a fire or a flood. Maybe your car will be stolen. Loss happens all the time in life. Like the young painter, loss can make us stronger or it can also devastate us.
The young painter could have concluded that he would never paint a better painting than the one his master had destroyed and simply given up. But he didn't. He pressed on in spite of the loss he had suffered. And this is what the Christian is to do when faced with a loss. We press on. We seek to learn lessons from our struggle. If we lose things, we remind ourselves that this earth is not our home. We wait for a future home with Christ in heaven. If we lose our reputation, we remind ourselves that God looks at the heart and that His opinion of all His children in Christ is that He loves them unconditionally.
1 Corinthians 13:10 reminds us that, "when perfection comes, the imperfect will be done away with." So this verse tells us that perfection has not yet come and to expect things to function in an imperfect manner until perfection comes. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we have the encouragement from Christ that, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."
If you have suffered loss recently or if you do in the future, it may be that the loss is to somehow give you a better and fuller life in the future. It surely doesn't seem like life is going to be better and fuller when you are looking at a burned out shell of a house after a fire, but it might be like the painting that the master painted over. It may be that the Great Master in heaven has better plans for us and our loss is only to clear the way for future outpourings of blessing from Him.
Soli Deo Gloria,