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From the Pulpit Article: The Joy of Counting All as Loss

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The Joy of Counting All as Loss

Philippians 3:4-11

We tend to think of life as a collection of moments. One moment happening after another, the life we live being merely a collection of those moments painted in a peculiar fashion as we display the canvas of our lives.  Life, in many ways, is like this.  There are times, however, when a brush stroke comes across the canvas of life that stands out.  It is distinct and memorable.  Those moments may be an event in life, a death or even a great joy to celebrate.

Many of us remember significant events that have come in our lives and have stuck with us.  We remember where we were and what we were doing when the events of September 11thtook place or when President Kennedy was assassinated. This goes for even personal events. We remember the joyful first time we met our spouse and the subsequent wedding day.  Whatever it may be we all have memories that have impacted us and thus, life hasn’t necessarily been the same.  You were changed forever.

For all Christians, it is fairly typical that one can remember a specific time when change came upon their heart and they put their faith in Jesus alone.  It might have been watching a sermon by the late Billy Graham or hearing the gospel preached at a local church, or maybe hearing it from a friend.   Whenever and wherever it was, great spiritual change came upon the soul and life would never be the same. Have you experienced such change?  A time when you removed placing your confidence in how much good you believe you’ve done and placed your confidence solely on Jesus as the object of your salvation?

In Philippians, chapter 3 verses 4 through 11, the Apostle Paul opens the curtain of his life to let us see the gospel’s impact on him and his spiritual change.  He is in the process of helping the church in Philippi realize the message of a non-gospel.  This non-gospel message, from a group called the Judaizers, can be devastating for their life, faith, and joy.  The Judaizer message was, in short, “Yes, believe in Jesus but you also must obey the Mosaic Law. If you don’t obey the law Christianity is no value to you.”  This message added onto the gospel which makes it no gospel at all.  Paul uses his own Christian conversion as the backdrop for why this message is so damaging and thus why the true gospel message is eternally life changing. Through it he shows that it is total joy to count everything as loss to know Jesus.

Paul, in the first 3 verses of chapter 3, encourages the church in Philippi to rejoice in the Lord and also look out for this Judaizer group.  He understood their faith being at risk if they accept their message.  He knew if they accepted the message that one must do certain things to merit their salvation it would be damaging for their eternity.  He understood if they accepted a message of putting confidence in themselves, rather than God’s work for them in Jesus, that eternal life would not be theirs. Paul is reminding them to put confidence in Jesus’ accomplishments and not in their accomplishments.  The only Christianity that is true and biblical is one that rests in nothing other than Jesus alone.  We do not have to rely on our own goodness or our own ability to merit God’s love and favor for eternity.  We cannot rely on our own character or actions. Friend, that can entice great joy in your soul when you can trust in Jesus for God’s favor toward you instead of your own ability to try and please Him.

Paul writes that if anyone has the ability to put confidence in their life it would be him. He had all the credentials in any Judaizer or Jewish person’s eyes.  He uses himself as an example of the emptiness of self-advantage, the vanity of law-keeping, and the futility of personal successes.  He says he had more advantage than anyone.  Paul confesses by building up his own foundation and wall of accomplishments and reasons to boast before God as a way to show his complete rejection of it.

He writes his credentials to show they are all ones any Jew or Judaizer would admire.  His credentials were by birth and by his own ambition.  He was born a Jew and circumcised on the eighth day. His family was strict in keeping the Abrahamic covenant. He wasn’t a convert to Judaism.  He was of the people of Israel.  He was pure-blood, racially an Israelite.  He was born of the tribe of Benjamin.  He could trace his roots back amongst the most faithful tribe in Israel. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. He didn’t adopt Greek manners of the day.  He could speak and write in Hebrew and Aramaic.  He was taught by one of the greatest teachers of the day, Rabbi Gamaliel. He was of the strictest sect of Judaism: The Pharisees.  His law-keeping was blameless. He was so zealous in his law-keeping he persecuted the church of Jesus Christ prior to his conversion. Paul had credentials most Jews and Judaizers would dream of in his day.  They could only but admire his credentials. If anyone could boast before God, it was him. The foundation of his life he displays brick by brick, merit by merit, only to tear it all down.

He writes, “But whatever gain I had I count it all as loss for the sake of knowing Christ”.  His spiritual pedigree, his amibtion and work are all counted as loss to know Jesus. He counts everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus.  Paul understood the advantage of the infinite worth of Jesus for his eternal life and he placed his faith in Him.

Has the spiritual site of Jesus changed you to count everything in life as loss for the sake of knowing Jesus? Do you joyfully count all as loss to gain Him?