January 17 I Sunday
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” —Philippians 3:12
At one time in his life, the Apostle Paul was more confident than any human being based on a legalistic righteousness in the way he lived and embraced his life. He writes, “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put 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; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:4-6).
If someone had reason to brag about their religious, devout life, it would be Paul. Yet he tells us, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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 and be found in Him” (Philippians 3:7-9).
As Paul reflected on his old way of life and his old approach to God, he found it completely worthless compared to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whatever Paul thought was a credit to his own working was actually a loss; it was garbage. We must, however, recognize that Paul lost everything when he came to Christ. Paul was a Pharisee with a promising career ahead of him, working his whole life to rise up in the ranks of the leaders of Israel. But, he turned away from all of that. What enabled Paul to overcome the pain, persecution, career suicide, peer rejection that he faced and his family disowning him is the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord, the One who strengthens him.
Paul laid down his own righteousness and placed his confidence in what Christ had done for him. Paul continues, “…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:9-11). Paul’s whole life became a pursuit of an ever-deepening relationship with Christ.
What are we pursuing in our lives? Are we willing to lay down our own righteousness, and everything else in our lives? May we acknowledge the great privilege we have to know Christ and be known by Him, which far outweighs anything else in life.
Prayer: Dear Precious Jesus, whatever self-righteousness I think I have gained, I consider it a loss so that I may be found in You. I yearn to pursue You with all of my life. Thank You, Jesus.