Okay, as a city boy, I have a lot to learn about the country. I remember the time when I was a teenager and our youth group played this hide-and-seek game on a farm. This one other kid and I crawled under this piece of machinery, where we had to stay for about a half an hour. I didn’t know what it was. After we were stuck there, my nose and I wanted to know what we were hiding under. My friend said, “Oh, this is a manure spreader.” Hmmm. Well, in recent times, I’ve helped out a friend who has some horses, and part of taking care of equine pets is what they call “mucking out” their stables. Now if you’ve been a farmer your whole life, please don’t laugh at me. Be kind. But I was dealing with manure more in those months more than I had in all my life up until then. And, frankly, I wasn’t fond of it.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Milestones and Manure.”
There’s a passage of scripture that I’ve been familiar with most of my life that has taken on a graphic new meaning to me, because in a very real way, it’s about manure. I know it’s a strange subject for a Christian discussion, but tell that to the Apostle Paul. He’s the one who used the analogy.
It’s in Philippians 3, beginning with verse 7. Paul’s just listed many of the great accomplishments of his life as a religious leader. It’s an amazing list, demonstrating why he was one of the most respected, most successful Jewish religious leaders of his generation. Then he met Jesus. He follows his list of life achievements with this statement, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.”
Now that word that’s translated “rubbish” in this translation is translated “dung” in the King James Version. Folks, that’s manure. I’ve looked it up in the Greek. That’s one of the meanings. That’s basically what the original Greek word means. Paul says that compared to what he has found, and knowing and serving Christ, every other milestone and title and achievement in his life… Well, he said it’s about as valuable as manure.
And that is values clarification; that right now you may be wondering how your life could be so full and yet it’s not fulfilling. How could you be enjoying such success and yet feel like your life isn’t all that significant. There’s a reason. You’re created, the Bible says, with “eternity in your heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and no earth-stuff can possibly give you the meaning and fulfillment you need. Only what you do with Jesus and for Jesus can do that. It’s not that your career, or your accomplishments, or your acquisitions, or positions are necessarily bad – they’re just not enough.
You want to make the greatest possible difference with however much life you have left? Then spend as much of what you have, what you are, and what you’ve got in loving and serving King Jesus. Paul said really knowing Jesus made everything else seem worthless. It’s not the championships, the scholarships, the memberships, the friendships that will captivate your heart and thrill your soul. It’s making Jesus your central passion; the magnificent obsession of your life.
I haven’t heard that little poem since I was a young man, but it’s as true now as it ever was, “Only one life…t’will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”