7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul has a very impressive resume when it comes to the things that his Pharisee friends would have equated with righteousness and rightness before God.
I can’t say I’ve ever been asked if I’m circumcised or anyone has taken any particular interest in my family tree, but there are lots of other things that people would use to judge whether I’m a good or valuable person, such as what job I have or whether I do good things or say the ‘right’ things.
It can be easy to fall into looking for my significance in these things that people around me approve of. But Paul places absolutely no value on these things that he once considered so important.
It’s not that all of these things are necessarily bad (Paul’s zeal for the gospel is good but his zeal for persecution wasn’t). But they are absolutely inconsequential when compared to the value of knowing Jesus. Significance and value as a son of God is so much greater than anything else I might do or be. I receive this solely because of who Jesus is and what he did, not because of anything else I am or do. I regularly need to be reminded of this, and to reorient my sense of value.
And there’s a huge liberation in that: because I did nothing to earn it – just accept it as a gift (by faith) – nothing I do or fail to do will take it away either. I can stop striving for acceptance and instead live in the infinitely greater acceptance I am already given.
What can I say? Father, you give me such a wonderful significant place with you. Why would I ever look for significance elsewhere? And yet I do. I’m sorry. Please turn me back when I’m looking the wrong way.
Written by David Cornell