“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.”
I relish descriptive words, and the word surpassing is an excellent morsel. Surpassing applies to something that goes beyond, exceeding the constrictions of time and imagination. Humanity honors, and longs for that which surpasses normality. This longing accounts for our forays into space, our fascination with centenarians, and our delight over miracles. While our senses decode much of the physical world around us, we long to understand what’s beyond that world. Pushing into God’s surpassing wisdom, love, and power is one of my favorite counseling activities. Everyone loves a good mystery, and that is what surpassing is all about.
The Apostle Paul uses the adjective surpassing frequently in his epistles. Those passages command special attention as they point to God’s mystery and might. As believers, Paul asserts that we hold the surpassing power of God in our weak, human jars of clay to show the world that power comes from God and not us (2 Corinthians 4:7). He continues to explain that while our human frames are wasting away, our inner selves are becoming stronger day by day, as affliction prepares us for a surpassing weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Surpassing attributes are heady concepts, to be sure. The man who encountered Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) understands and explains God’s surpassing glory in a deep way.
How can we understand the surpassing greatness of God in ways that impact our ongoing experience? There are many ways to extrapolate how God’s surpassing qualities affect our lives. Here are three to consider:
God’s surpassing wisdom teaches us that all things, whether we understand them or not, have spiritual and educational value in our lives. Our sin nature has bred in us a common cognitive flaw. In our flesh, we tend to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. This tendency leads us to believe that what appears to be a blessing is always good, while what we see as struggles are always bad. In God’s economy of faith, however, the opposite is often true. Struggles, when wisely processed, lead us to learned dependence on Christ. Blessings, which should inspire gratitude, sometimes do not. Instead, they fuel a false sense of independence or sufficiency that leads us away from God. God, in his surpassing wisdom, uses both the light and dark to draw us to himself. The truth of Romans 8:28 plays out in his wisdom channel.
God’s surpassing love supplies the security we need to move forward without fear. The God-shaped hole in all of us finds true fulfillment in Christ’s sacrificial love. God’s incredible expression of love to us in the gift of his son Jesus blows away all the levels of human emotion we can experience. When we cherish that love rightly and understand it correctly, its surpassing depth erases our insecurities, and all the posing, posturing, and puffing up that result from them. The truth that we are beloved becomes, through the ongoing process of sanctification, as real as the fact that our hearts beat and our lungs breathe. Embracing this truth in ever-increasing levels stops our striving. It gives us hope that originates beyond ourselves. It allows us to feel God’s warm love in the coldest circumstances.
God’s surpassing greatness, demonstrated in his sovereign omnipotent power, gives us peace that transcends comprehension. As Paul cites in his powerful prayer, we can commend our circumstances to “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). God’s surpassing power does more than we can imagine, and is constantly working in us and in the circumstances of our lives. There is more to each day than we can know or understand. What we can know and understand at increasing levels is that God is always doing something. He is always working, he is for us, and his sovereignty and goodness are absolute.
God’s surpassing greatness has fueled the ministry of Fieldstone Counseling through the generosity of many faithful donors. Would you consider giving to Fieldstone today? Your kindness enables us to provide biblically-based, Christ-centered, clinically informed care to all who seek it at Fieldstone through counseling scholarships. Last year over $125,000 worth of counseling scholarships were awarded to Fieldstone counselees. All donations are tax-deductible and may be made via check or charge through our website, fieldstonecounseling.org. Thank you for your consideration!
Crystal is a Christ-follower, wife, mother, counselor, and friend. She is passionate about connecting others with the truth of God's miraculous power and sustaining presence.