Written by Jennie Brackett
Scripture to Read: Philippians 3:1-11
The verses Paul has written for today’s devotion makes me think about the same word, profession, with the emphasis on syllables in two very different places within the word, making for two very different meanings. Profession as a career, and profession, as in professing. In these verses, Paul talks about his former profession as a Pharisee, where he upheld every law, and did all the things he was told and was expected to do. Yet, it got him no closer to a heavenly home with Christ. His ‘profession’ got in the way.
I have two people in mind whom I would consider as friends. Both have professions that are weighty and influential. Both people, in their professional lives, hold the future of others in their hands. One is a judge and one is a doctor. Let’s think about both of these. How hard, as a judge, would it be to not let your professional responsibility, as a judge, influence your tendency to pass judgement on people in your personal life? As a professional, responsible for making judgments in different cases, I would think it would be hard to then transition to a personal life where passing along judgement on others is to be avoided. Does that feel heavy? Does that feel powerful? Does it make her better than those she is judging?
The other friend is a doctor in a hospital. He works with very fragile, and sometimes very sick, people. He has studied and put years of effort into his work and knows his stuff. In fact, he is known internationally for his expertise in his field. He knows that one treatment will result in one outcome, and another something very different; that one medication may fix the issue, and another may exacerbate it. As an example, my daughter has a heart condition. When she was young and had breathing problems, the doctor (a different one) knew that one medication would make her heart race and potentially be life-threatening, and another was much more safe. Can you imagine the power, the God-like sense of control? Both professions seem righteous, but they both need to profess that God’s power, grace, and salvation are the ultimate (By the way, both of these people walk a life with Christ. I have no doubt about their intentions ever.).
So, be careful about someone who says you must do ‘x’ or ‘y’ to be saved. Those rules are man’s rule, not God’s. Human acts aren’t what will save you, even the good, well-intentioned ones – what Jesus did is the only thing that saves anyone. Paul was one of those rule-following judges. This wasn’t earning him any heavenly favor – possibly earthly, but ultimately who wants only that? Even Paul recognized that his profession was that of folly, and turned his efforts to being one who professes instead. All of those earthly efforts and rules, those human precepts, are garbage. Humility, faith, and obedience are what makes us right with him. So don’t let your profession (or actions) be the guiding principle in your life – let your PROFESSion do that.