When Gain becomes loss
Philippians 3:2-11
What is Gain? Your Credentials or Christ?
#Christ
Published September 26th, 2017
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Main point summary
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Devotional Thought (Shorter Version)
Full Sharing (Complete Version)
notes
Main point summary
Whatever things were gain , I now count as loss for the sake of Christ
Arc**
NT
Philippians 3:2-11
esv
Look out for m the dogs,
look out for n the evildoers,
look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
series
For o we are the circumcision,
p who worship q by the Spirit of God 1
and r glory in Christ Jesus
and put no confidence in the flesh—
s though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.
concessive
negativepositive
ideaexplanation
alternative
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh,
I have more:
t circumcised on the eighth day,
u of the people of Israel,
v of the tribe of Benjamin,
u a Hebrew of Hebrews;
as to the law, w a Pharisee;
x as to zeal, y a persecutor of the church;
z as to righteousness under the law, 1 blameless.
conditional
situationresponse
But a whatever gain I had,
b I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss
because of c the surpassing worth of d knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I e have suffered the loss of all things
and count them as rubbish,
in order that I may gain Christ
and be found in him,
not having f a righteousness of my own that comes from the law,
but g that which comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
h that I may know him and i the power of his resurrection,
and j may share his sufferings,
becoming like him in his death,
actionmanner
that by any means possible I may k attain the resurrection from the dead.
progression
actionpurpose
bilateral
Look out for the dogs, the evildoers and those who mutilate the flesh
For we are the circumcision (Our boasting is in Jesus and we put no confidence in the flesh)
If anyone thinks he has reason for boasting in the flesh, I got more to boast about!
BUT whatever gain I had, I count as loss because of the surpassing worth of Jesus
For Jesus' sake, I have given up everything and counted those things as rubbish
In order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him
That I may know him and the power of his ressurrection and share in his sufferings
That I may attain the ressurrection (eternal life)
Look out for the mutilators of flesh because we are not like like them, we are the of the true Abrahamic Covenantal Circumcision (our boast is not in the flesh but in Jesus). But if anyone think he has confidence in the flesh, I got more to boast about!
(Presented with a progression of the purpose of why Paul is willing to give up everything) I (Paul) have given up everything so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, then I may know him and the power of his resurrection, then I may attain the eternal crown of life.
If anyone thinks he has reason for boasting in the flesh, I got more to boast about! BUT I consider those credentials as loss because of Christ
Note that this is kind of a play on words about "circumcision", about how their "circumcision" is mere mutilation of the flesh because they lost the whole meaning of it
These are people who probably have lots of confidence in the flesh. This interpretation is derived from the ground because the opposite of the "mutilators" the "circumcision" and these are the people who have no confidence in the flesh. Therefore we can sort of guess that the mutilators are people who have so much confidence in the flesh that their circumcision is seen as mutilation, the circumcision has lost its significance.
Though Paul had a great myriad of Achievements, he obviously has much to boast about. Yet surprisingly, he counted all of them as loss
His long list of credentials and achievements
discourse
Devotional Thought (Shorter Version)
(This is a condensed version, for a more complete and fuller though on this passage, refer to the below module) All of us wants to be validated by our personal achievements or credentials. We all want to feel proud of what we have achieved, a medal that you may have won in high school, a competition that you came up on top, an exam that you aced in school and so on. We enjoy celebrating ourselves, we enjoy celebrating all the achievements that we can attain. But here's the problem, this self-achieving mindset can pervade even to the church. Don't get me wrong, those Achievements are not bad. They are good. But the problem comes when those achievements become the very thing that eclipses us from seeing the greater and surpassing worth that is in Christ . The problem is when we get so caught up with our personal accomplishments and credentials that the Christianity that we have is no longer a Christianity that is on Christ but one that has been "mutilated" by our confidence in the flesh . The word "Mutilate" in verse 2, is very much a play on words to express their insincerity of their Circumcision. These people were genuinely Jews who went through the Abrahamic Covenantal Circumcision. But Paul alludes to the fact that their Circumcision, is mere mutilation of the flesh, they have lost the original significance of circumcision which is to be set apart for God (Genesis 17), but their circumcision have lost their significance because they have become confident in themselves and their achievements and about how great they are. As Christians, we too have entered into the Abrahamic Covenantal Circumcision ( Romans 2:29 ), Though not circumcised outwardly, but circumcised inwardly. However, this inward circumcision as Christians can become mutilation, if we have so much confidence and boasting in our personal abilities, that we do not see a need for Christ. And so Paul presents to these mutilators a long list of Achievements and Credentials to show that they have no match for him. But Paul goes on to say: "Whatever gain I had, I now count as loss". To Paul, his past credentials and achievements mean nothing to him. All because Paul saw that the great and surpassing worth of Christ (verse 8), of knowing him and gaining him far surpassed and outshines all the glorious honours and achievements he has been bestowed. The ultimate glory of Christ's spotlight outshines the very tiny dim light bulb of our achievements. The moon of the great worth of Christ eclipse the dim star of our credentials. Because of the great worth of Christ, Paul "Suffers the lost of all things". Paul willingly gives up all things. For what purpose? "in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him" There is only one thing that is "gain" to him. Gain is not having a long list of accomplishments which is the prevalent thought of today's society. But simply to gain Christ, then to Know Christ and share in His sufferings and then to attain eternal life. Gaining Christ to Know Christ, not in some superficial manner but a deep-rooted reality to share in Christ's suffering. 2 Timothy 2:3-6 uses the same exact phrase and there was a comparison to a good solider that is not caught up in civilian affairs or worldly affairs but is hard working to please the commander. Like a farmer who works hard to yield the best crops. Sharing in Christ suffering is sharing in Christ's diligence and endurance to pursue God, even if that means having to forgo worldly things. Because it is after we know him and the power of his resurrection and that we share in his sufferings that we may attain eternal life, or as Paul says it later "lay hold of eternal life". This here is where Paul sees the great and surpassing worth of Christ, the resurrection from the dead. What is at stake here is not just how high you position Christ in your life and how comfortable you are with that position. What is at stake here is eternal life . Paul forgoes all his past achievements and accomplishments to gain Christ, to know Christ and share in His Sufferings so that he can lay hold of eternal life. To conclude, t he question that we need to ask ourselves is "what is gain to you?". Is it the achievements and accomplishments, past and present that you have? Or is following Christ, knowing Christ, Sharing in Christ Suffering where you see the greatest gain.
Full Sharing (Complete Version)
Introduction There was a story that goes with 3 young boys who were bragging to each other about how great their father was. They were comparing to see who's dad was the best. Who had the better credentials as a son to a father. The first boy went: "My dad is so good because he's a Policemen. At any point in time, he can arrest any of you". The second boy went: "Pfft! That's nothing. My dad's a lawyer. Your dad can only arrest, while my dad can throw anyone into prison!" The third boy then replied: "Guys that's nothing, your father policemen or lawyer is nothing compared to who my father is. You see my father is so fat, that when people see him they would say: "Oh my God!" Here's the point of this story. All of us wants to be validated by our personal achievements or credentials. We all want to feel proud of what we have achieved, a medal that you may have won in high school, a competition that you came up on top, an exam that you aced in school and so on. We enjoy celebrating ourselves, we enjoy celebrating all the achievements that we can attain by our own effort. But here's the catch, this self-achieving mindset can pervade even to the church. We brag about how we have never missed a church service before, we talk about how many ministries we serve in, we talk about how big a ministry we are leading, we talk about how many times we can read the bible in a year and so on. Outwardly, we may say: "Only by the grace of God, yet inwardly, you know that you did all those by yourselves". Don't get me wrong, those "Achievements" (if I may call them that for now) are not bad. They are good. But the problem comes when those achievements become the very thing that eclipses us from seeing the greater and surpassing worth that is in Christ . The problem is when we get so caught up with our personal accomplishments and credentials that the Christianity that we have is no longer a Christianity that is centered on Christ but one that has been "mutilated" by our confidence in the flesh . Now "mutilated" may seem like a very strange word, but it is the very word that is used in Philippians 3:2-11. So let us now turn to Philippians 3:2-11 and turn to God for his help. 1) Mutilation or Circumcision (vs 2-6) In Phil 3:2 Paul presents the Philippians with a warning. "Watch out for the dogs, the evildoers, the ones who Mutilate the flesh. Watch out for them, don't be like them. Instead, we are the circumcision" (verse 3). When Paul used the word "Mutilate", it was very much Paul doing a play on words to express their insincerity of their Circumcision. These people were genuinely Jews who went through the Abrahamic Covenantal Circumcision. But Paul alludes to the fact that their Circumcision, is mere mutilation of the flesh, they have lost the original significance of circumcision which is to be set apart for God (Genesis 17), but their circumcision have lost their significance because they have become confident in themselves and their achievements and about how great they are. This can be inferred when Paul presents the alternating view of "the circumcision" in verse 3 where Paul says that "the circumcision" are people who boast in Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh". This implies that the "mutilators", as we will refer to them now, are people who do not boast in Christ and simply have great confidence in themselves. They look at their achievements and take very great pride in it. They probably saw how well they kept the law, how they remained pure, how they probably knew the Law of God and how they kept it strictly, they saw how they were Jews and saw themselves as God's chosen people; they saw all their achievements and credentials and put great confidence in that. They probably saw no need for God. And thus their "circumcision" has become mere "mutilation". But Paul plays along with them and said : "You want to talk about Achievements? You want to talk about Credentials? Okay fine! You want to play it this way, let's play it this way! "I'm Circumcised on the eighth day, Im the Jew of the Jew, im the Hebrew of the Hebrew, I'm the Pharisee of the Pharisee, I'm the Pastor of the Pastor, I'm the Leader of the Leader, I'm the Smartest of the Smartest, I'm the Zealot of the Zealot! You want to talk about credentials and Achivements? You guys don't hold a candle to me!" Paul presents to the Philippians a long list of Achievements and Credentials to show that they have no match for him. The issue here is not about whether having Achievements or Credentials is wrong. Even Paul showed that he had a long list of achievements. I hope you don't see it that way. The point is not about having no achievements or credentials. The point here is about how all our credentials and achievements can cause our Circumcision to be Mutiliation. As Christians, we too have entered into the Abrahamic Covenantal Circumcision (Romans 2:29), Though not circumcised outwardly, but circumcised inwardly. However, this inward circumcision as Christians can become mutilation, if we have so much confidence and boasting in our personal abilities, that we do not see a need for Christ. We attribute all that we are and all that we have to ourselves and how great we are and Christ is left out of the equation totally. We fail to see the value of Christ and get all so caught up with ourselves and achievements. Have your Circumcision become mere Mutilation? Have you reduced Christianity into some other form of self-absorption of achievements that Christ is left out of the picture totally? 2) Gain is Loss (vs 7-8) But Paul responds in the most unexpected way. After listing down a long list of credentials and achievements, which to the common readers like you and me may not seem like much, but trust me, those are very impressive credentials and achievements. After Paul list all of them down to dumbfound those Mutilators, he still goes on to say: "Whatever gain I had, I now count as loss". Wow! Isn't this beautiful. All the impressive medals, award and feats that he had accomplished, he say, "They are loss! They are nothing!" To Paul, his past credentials and achievements mean nothing to him. Even though those past achievements were very honourable titles! It's like asking Barack Obama what is the greatest position he has ever held he would say something like: "Well, I am not sure, but I count my position as president as mere loss"! That's absurd! Either he is crazy, or maybe, just maybe, Obama has found something else. Paul did, Paul found something greater. "whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ" (verse 7) Paul saw that the great and surpassing worth of Christ (verse 8), of knowing him and gaining him far surpassed and outshines all the glorious honours and achievements he has been bestowed. The ultimate glory of Christ's spotlight outshines the very tiny dim light bulb of our achievements. The moon of the great worth of Christ eclipse the dim star of our credentials. Here in lies the reason for why all things now become loss. It is because Paul has found something far more valuable. And it's loss because it was as if Paul was like, "Man wasted all my time getting all those when I could have gotten Christ". It was as if Paul's life and achievements earned him $1000, which is a lot of money, only to find Christ and realise that Christ's value is $1,000,000,000o, that is so much more valuable than that $1000! The great value of Christ made all his past achievements and credentials seem like nothing. In fact, not just loss or nothing, Paul considers them "rubbish" as we see in verse 8. It's rubbish! The original word in greek could have been translated in a much more crude way. I'm sure you all can fill in the blanks yourself. Paul says he is willing to suffer the loss of all things, he is willing to give up everything, not only that he counts them as rubbish! It's almost as if like if you took out a sweet and you take out the sweet from the wrapper and suddenly a gust of wind blows your wrapper away, would go like: "NOOOO I lost my sweet wrapper!! My life is over!!". Nobody reacts like that! When the wind blows away, we don't feel a thing! Why? Because it is already rubbish! It is only a matter of time before we throw the wrapper away! To Paul, after finding Christ, all those achievements and credentials and honour, he gave them up, he willingly suffered the loss of all things and he counts them as rubbish. Those things become like the sweet wrapper, it is only a matter of time before he would throw them away! All because of the great value of what he sees in Christ that make all else seem like rubbish. The question now is do we see the great and surpassing worth of Christ? Does our view of Christ eclipse all the other achievements which puffs our hearts up? Or does Christ look small and distant, that our accomplishments and awards seem all better than Christ? 3) Knowing Christ and His Sufferings (vs 8-11) So what now? So what now that Paul sees the surpassing worth of Christ? Paul suffers the loss of all things, Paul gives up all things and count them as rubbish. For what purpose? "in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him" There is only one thing that is "gain" to him. Gain is not having a long list of accomplishments which is the prevalent thought of today's society. A person has much "gains" when he has succeeded in careers! Success in ministry! Sucess in school! Sucess in having the ultimate gym body (I had to include this here since I used the word "gains". I had it coming). This is what the world thinks its gain. It probably was what our parents taught us is gain. Now I'm not saying we be like Paul to give up all things, the point is not that. The point is that he doesn't allow those things to eclipse the real "gain" and that is Christ! He doesn't allow his past success and accomplishment, which might be gain for him originally, to blind him and hinder him from going after Christ. He now sees those past achievements as mere loss in comparison to the greater gain of knowing and gaining Christ. Paul offers a progression of purposes! First to gain Christ, then to know Christ then to attain eternal life. When Paul wants to know Christ, he doesn't want to just know Christ in some superficial manner but to know him and the power of his ressurrection, to share in his suffering by becoming like Him in His death. Wow! Sharing in Christ suffering is a deep thought. I don't think it just simply means to blindly follow Christ to die on the cross. 2 Timothy 2:3-6 says to share in suffering as a good solider that is not caught up in civilian affairs or worldly affairs but is hard working to please the commander. Like a farmer who works hard to yield the best crops. Sharing in Christ suffering is sharing in Christ's diligence and endurance to pursue God, even if that means having to forgo worldly things. Because it is after we know him and the power of his resurrection and that we share in his sufferings that we may attain eternal life, or as Paul says it later "lay hold of eternal life". This here is where Paul sees the great and surpassing worth of Christ, the resurrection from the dead. What is at stake here is not just how high you position Christ in your life and how comfortable you are with that position. What is at stake here is eternal life . Paul forgoes all his past achievements and accomplishments to gain Christ, to know Christ and share in His Sufferings so that he can lay hold of eternal life. Are you on the same track as Paul? Or has your pursuits for credentials, pursuits for high positions, pursuits for achievements, eclipsed and clouded the surpassing value of knowing Christ? What is gain to you? To get the highest paying job in the world? Or simply to know Christ and to share in His sufferings. Conclusion The question that we need to ask ourselves is "what is gain to you?". Is it the achievements and accomplishments, past and present that you have? Or is following Christ, knowing Christ, Sharing in Christ Suffering where you see the surpassing worth.
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