“...Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 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 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.” Philippians 3:4-11
During my high school years, I joined the JROTC. Little did I know I would fall in love with this class, AND I would be pretty successful in it. Each year I was able to use my discipline and skills to gain leadership positions. Eventually, when senior year came around, I was given the authority to hold the most elevated position a cadet could have within the unit. I was named Battalion Commander and would be the highest-ranking student of all the other 120+ students. I thought I was the man. Medals and other rewards gained over the years adorned my highly decorated uniform. However, the icing on the cake was my name getting inscribed on a plague that remains to this day at Pender High School.
Indeed, I had the same confidence as the Apostle Paul does in this passage, even though his resume puts all of my accomplishments to shame. If modern slang existed in Paul’s day, he would be considered a GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). Before Paul came to know Jesus, he was well-known by all for his persecution of Christ-followers. After his encounter with Christ, Paul was renowned for his boldness and faith. No matter what season of life, Paul always seemed to make the most of it. He had awards, positions, and opportunities, unlike any other person. Before Christ, those achievements and areas were his identity; he put all of his purpose in what he did.
But when Paul came to know Christ, two crucial shifts occurred. The first shift was he placing his sole purpose and identity in Christ. Paul realized Jesus gives purpose and not our accomplishments. The second shift was understanding all of his accomplishments and achievements were rubbish compared to knowing Christ and being found in Him. That is a tough pill to swallow.
I struggle, as I am sure many of you do, with considering all that I do as rubbish. The world encourages us to put all of our achievements and accomplishments on the highest pedestal. Unfortunately, this leads to a competitive way of life, which can damage people and leave them scarred.
Paul could have put most people to shame with his boasting, but he chose to consider every other thing as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. The only way someone comes to a decision of this magnitude is through a real encounter with Jesus. This allows them to recognize how much greater He is to anything else in this life. Our accomplishments can bring us awards, money, fame, and success. Eventually, they will all fade into nothingness. Only one thing will remain forever, and that is Jesus.
Paul came to learn all of his pursuits were worth losing to know Christ. This is a challenging lesson we must learn as well. We fill our lives with the pursuit of so much “stuff” we leave little room for anything else. To allow space for more of Christ, we have to count other pursuits as a loss. As difficult as this process could be, the choice becomes a bit easier when we get to know Christ more and more.
Being God’s child is grander than any other position we can have. The achievement of knowing Christ will outweigh any other success in this life. The prize of spending forever with our Savior is immeasurable compared to the loss of everything else we might gain in this life.
This world loves a good “win” story; we typically do not celebrate the L’s we have to face. It seems Paul learned there is some value in the losses of life because they can teach us there is a prize of higher importance to obtain. Following Paul’s example mean that we can consider every day a win if we can get just one step closer to Jesus.
Consider the weight and value you place on your achievements, positions, and wins in life.
What would it like like to put all of your wins together and “put them in the trash” compared to knowing Christ? How would do this make you feel?
Take a deep breath and know in the midst of this challenge, Jesus is with you. He is the prize, and He can help you count it all as a loss.
Father, thank you for this incredibly difficult call to count all things as a loss just to know You. You are worthy of all my attention, pursuit, and life. As the world tries to tempt me with prizes, achievements, and positions, I pray I will display a posture of surrender to You. Help me to know You more so I will choose You over this world time and time again. Thank you for being You Father, and I pray all of this in Your holy name, Amen.
PC3 writer Davy Nance wrote today’s devotional.