Philippians 3:1-11 Devotional 4/16/2020
Start by reading Philippians 3:1-11
In this passage we see Paul tackle a hard but necessary correction in the Philippian church: Ascribing value between earthly and eternal things. Paul calls out a group known as the Judaizers who believed Gentiles must first become Jewish in order to then become a Christian (those who mutilate the flesh referring to circumcision). This group was more concerned with culture and elevating themselves than the Gospel.
Paul continues by arguing the fact that if any Jew were able to boast in pedigree or deed it would be him. As a good Jewish man Paul had obeyed all the laws, was from the “right family” and even held one of the most esteemed roles as a Pharisee. Paul was the Jew any father would be proud of, and any mother would brag about. And yet he casts it all aside. For what? The Gospel and Salvation!
Paul explains that all the rewards and blessings of earth are nothing compared to the value of knowing Christ. And he doesn't just appraise them as less, he counts them as rubbish (or in some translations of the Greek word “skybalon,” as something you might find in a litter box, if you catch my drift). “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8b)
We also see that Paul's action of forsaking his past in the pursuit of Christ is not simply an addition, but a complete revamp of his life’s pursuits. From elevating himself, to elevating Christ and lessening himself. From persecuting Christians, to suffering as a Christian. Paul gets it! He doesn't just add Christianity onto his Linkedin profile or business card alongside “Jewish Pharisee” or “Member of the Tribe of Benjamin.” He removes all earthly status symbols and replaces them with an eternal one, “Christian.”
A somewhat similar story with unfortunately the opposite result is the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22. Here a young man who had obeyed all the laws, was a “good” person and had all the blessings of status and wealth, but refused to give it up for Christ. His mistake: He ascribed more value to his earthly possessions than the eternal free gift of Salvation. The result: “He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:22b)
When we put our stock in the things of this world, we will always go away sorrowful, because we have misplaced what is of true value. In this season, be encouraged that as a Christian, the most valuable thing you possess is the Gospel and your Salvation. No quarantine, no virus, no one thing can take this away, it is eternal and of infinite value! It is a treasure beyond all comparison given to you freely by the Most High God!
Let us also strive to ascribe more worth and value to the things of God and less and less to the things of this earth. Prioritize reading Scripture, prayer, community, and preaching the Gospel to yourself and others. Let us be like Paul who strove with joy in pursuit of Christ, rather than go away in sorrow back to the things of this world.