Saturday, January 7, 2012

9. Philippians 3

(This is the second in a series of ten posts counting down my ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. My friend David is also counting down his ten favorite chapters in the New Testament. You can find the corresponding post on his blog by clicking here.)

Philippians 3 may soon move up in my top ten because I will be participating in a semester-long Philippians bible study once school starts. Paul gives a brief testimony in this chapter. Verses 4-6 explain his background as a circumcised Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin, a strict follower of the law, and a zealous persecutor of the church. Paul was simultaneously a very good person in terms of following the law and a very evil person in terms of his treatment of the believers. He also had a most noble birth.

But in verse 8, Paul counts all these things, both the good and the bad, loss on account of Christ:
"But moreover, I count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse..."

The word refuse can also be translated as garbage, rubbish, or dung. Those are pretty strong words which show the absoluteness of Paul's conversion. And how can you not love a chapter that talks about fecal matter?

Verse 8 continues into verse 9 showing the turn in Paul's life. The things that were previously gain to Paul (the law, his own righteousness, etc.) were replaced by Christ:
"...that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ..."
But verses 13-14 show that Paul was never satisfied with the amount of Christ he had gained. Christ is unlimited, and Paul knew that there was always more Christ to stretch forward into and pursue after:
"...Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward."
This is a very good pattern of the way we should live, and in fact in verse 17, Paul encourages us to be imitators of his pattern. This is a great chapter for us as we enter a new year. Did you have a bad year in 2011? Forget about it. Did you have a good year in 2011? Forget about it. In the year 2012, pursue after new experiences of Christ, counting all other things as loss, to gain more of Him.


Anonymous said...

I like that none of our posts are the same so far, and neither of those chapters were on my list at all.

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