Philippians 3:7 (NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
What “things” were Paul talking about? Everything he had accomplished, held in high status, or was proud of about himself BEFORE Jesus got a hold of him on the Damascus road… his entire life before it became totally dedicated to the One who saved him from eternal condemnation.
Relating that to us today, our “things” might have come before salvation or they might have been present during that time when we professed Christ but really did not live our faith seriously. After truly discovering Christ, Paul reckoned his previous achievements, status, and priorities as “loss” – which is translated from the original more descriptively as trash, junk, dung, or “that which should be thrown out to the dogs.” The term was also used in business, such as when a company experiences a year of loss instead of profit. All that work and nothing to show for it but a loss of income.
I’m A Good Person
The most common response you hear from people (by far) when you ask them if God should accept them as they are is “I’m a pretty good person.” Well, first of all, you are not and I can prove it.
How many lies does it take to make you a liar? If you answered “one” then at least you are not lying right now. You are a liar. So am I. Ever stolen? You sure you haven’t? Lazy on the job… stealing from your boss. Cheating on taxes… stealing from the government. Got back too much change from the cashier and just kept it? Thief.
Ever lusted? Jesus says you are an adulterer. Ever taken God’s name in vain? And yes, “OMG” is just that. So is any other irreverent or overly casual use of God’s holy name. Blasphemer.
So we are all liars, adulterers, thieves, and blasphemers. Do I really need to keep going? You ain’t so good, pardner, me neither. It gets worse when we compare ourselves to the Apostle Paul, who was religiously almost perfect: a leader, a law keeper (keeping God’s law was how you measured righteousness before Jesus came and died), a zealous student of religion, and a meticulous practitioner of his faith. Paul would have been considered an elite among the faithful of his time. Most of us would not be considered worthy to dust off his scrolls.
Yet, Paul said everything good about him (and by human standards there was PLENTY) was a total loss because it was not to Christ’s glory. It was garbage because it was his attempt to earn his salvation and good standing with God. He declared his willingness to “toss it all to the dogs,” thereby confirming that following Jesus was now his only motivation.
Have you reached a point where all your achievements, status, goodness, and works are collectively “trash” compared to living as a true Christ-follower? Are you ready to cast off all attempts to glorify yourself by your good works and work only for the glory of the Son of God?
Is It Worth It?
Paul had lost all the privilege, status, and power of his former life but viewed what he got in exchange as gain (“profit”). What did he get in return?
It can be summed up that he “gained Christ” and all that entails. He gained the righteousness of Christ which made him no longer dependent on his own self righteousness. He came to “know” Christ experientially and personally… a true relationship. He discovered true power: the power of the Holy Spirit made possible by Jesus.
To sum it up: whatever we do on our own is worthless trash compared to a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. No matter what we accomplish, what status we reach, or how “good” we are, it is a steaming pile of cow patooey if we are trying to earn God’s grace through our own self righteousness.
On the other hand, everything is pure eternal profit when done for Christ’s glory and a deeper walk with Him.