“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
Think for a moment. What is something you take an immense amount of pride in? Maybe you’re freakishly athletic. Maybe you’re wealthy. Or maybe you’re incredibly smart. It can really be anything.
When Paul told the Philippian believers to “put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3), he meant it. The apostle Paul wasn’t one to exaggerate; he didn’t mince words. He said what he meant and meant what he said.
Where things get personal is when we apply his words in verse 7 directly to our lives. Ask yourself, Christian: do you count whatever gain you have as loss for the sake of knowing Christ?
This doesn’t mean we don’t use our athleticism. It doesn’t mean we don’t steward our money well. It certainly doesn’t imply we should neglect to use our God-given intelligence. Counting all things as loss for the sake of knowing Christ simply means we must hold those things with an open hand. In other words, we must be prepared to lose them because Christ is superior.
Are we taking Philippians 3:7 seriously?
Paul Took it Seriously
As the beloved apostle said, if anybody has reason to boast, it’s him. Let’s take a look at his record.
- Circumcised on the eighth day;
- Of the people of Israel;
- Of the tribe of Benjamin;
- A Hebrew of Hebrews;
- As to the Law, a Pharisee;
- As to zeal, persecutor of the church; and
- As to righteousness under the law, blameless
If humankind was somehow able to earn God’s favor by their own accolades, Paul would come very close. No one else could touch him. It wouldn’t be a contest. To use a golf analogy, he would be Tiger Woods in his prime and every other human would be woefully behind him.
But Paul knows that, as much as his “achievements” look great on paper, they pale in comparison to being found in Christ. Knowing Jesus as Savior was worth infinitely more than any of those seven accolades.
Which means we have a question to face as well: do we take this verse seriously? Are we prepared to “count everything as loss” for the sake of knowing Christ? To ask another way: do you love Jesus more than anything?
The Rich Young Ruler
We all know the story of the rich young ruler. In Mark 10:17-27, Jesus has a conversation with the man. If you’re not familiar, go ahead and read it.
The rich young ruler thought he had it all together. He went as far as to say he had kept the whole law! But then Jesus pricked him at just the right spot by telling him that, if he really wanted to follow Christ, he would have to do one more thing: “sell all that he has and give it to the poor.” Jesus knew his idols.
Of course, we know this ruler couldn’t do that. He “was dismayed by this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.” His love for his possessions superseded his supposed desire to follow Jesus. His true affections were exposed. There was a part of him that wanted to follow Jesus, but the cost was too much. He wanted Christ, but not that much.
It’s apparent that he believed there was more worth in his possessions than there was in following after Christ. He was unable, like Paul, to count any gain he had as loss for the sake of knowing Christ.
Friends, are we willing to count anything–even good things!–as loss for Christ’s sake? Are we willing to lay down everything for the sake of being found in Christ? Be careful, as asking yourself that question may reveal idolatry. It did for the rich young ruler. Good things, when put above God, become bad things.
Knowing Jesus is Better
“You see,” John MacArthur once said in a sermon, “the person who comes to God is the person who is willing to pay whatever God requires, whatever the price, whatever the cost, the person willing to abandon everything for Christ.”
Philippians 3:7, at its core, is about determining what–or who–your ultimate allegiance is. Are we willing to abandon everything in life in order to follow Christ? That may not come for us . . . but is your heart prepared for it? You may not have to sacrifice your job, finances, or family — but are you prepared to do so if that ever comes?
We say we know Jesus is better, but do we live as though that’s true? Jesus is better than anything else in this life. Does our day-to-day walk reflect that?
These are questions Christians must face. We must ask ourselves, truly: do we take Philippians 3:7 seriously?