Living Life with God's Irrepressible Joy
Philippians 3 is probably my favorite chapter in this wonderful book! It’s packed with many great nuggets for thought, reflection, and meditation. In this passage, Paul reveals so much of his heart and his relationship with the Lord that we don’t find elsewhere. It encourages us in our walk with the Lord and convicts us in areas in which we can improve and become more like Paul.
In fact, towards the end of this chapter, Paul encourages the Philippians—and now us—to imitate him as he follows Christ. We’ll dive more into what that means in a later post. However, as we jump into today’s study passage, keep that in mind, for Paul was a strong pillar in the faith and has many lessons to teach us.
Last time, we learned that even though Paul had ample reason for confidence in the flesh, he counted it all as loss for Christ. He had reached the height of his career, the epitome of success, and the top of his religion, and yet he counted it all as loss compared to Christ. Today, we’re going to delve more deeply into this concept and discover more of Paul’s perspective on earthly things compared to knowing Christ. So let’s jump right in!
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
This passage speaks for itself. It really doesn’t need further explanation. It’s beautiful in its imagery and powerful in its statement of faith. It’s a declaration while also a prayer. Here, Paul is declaring that Christ is far greater in value and worth than all the world has to offer and all that he had attained, and that he therefore counts all else as less than nothing that he may gain Christ.
Remember how we talked about the rich young ruler in our previous post? How Jesus asked him to sell all he had before following Him? The young ruler deemed the cost too high and went away depressed. However, here, Paul is willing to give everything up—whatever the cost—in order to gain Christ. That’s devotion! That’s the kind of faith Jesus asks of us.
Paul writes that he counts all things as rubbish. This is a bold statement! Count could be translated as “deem, value, or consider” and the Greek word for rubbish could also read “dung, refuse, garbage.” So Paul counted, deemed, considered, and valued all things as of no greater worth than garbage in order to gain Christ.
Wow! That puts Paul’s statement into perspective, doesn’t it?! Are we willing to declare the same thing? Do we truly count all that we have in this world as of no greater value than garbage in order that we may gain Christ and be found in Him? Or, are we holding too tightly to the things of this world and valuing them above our Lord and Savior?
Jesus isn’t asking us to not enjoy life or the material things in this world; He just wants to make sure that we don’t make these things more important than Himself. At the end of the day, if we were asked to choose between the comforts and pleasures of this world or Jesus, we should be able to say without pause, “Jesus!” every time.
Throughout his life, Paul found that Jesus was of far surpassing and greater value than anything else in this world and that knowing Him and being known by Him was the most important thing in life. Therefore, he was able to make this declaration with confidence and without hesitation.
May we also reach the place in our spiritual walk with the Lord that we can join Paul in declaring that Christ is enough and is surpassingly greater than all else.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.’”