I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. Philippians 3:8
A few years ago, my doctor gave me a stern talk about my health. I took his words to heart and began going to the gym and adjusting my diet. Over time, both my cholesterol and my weight went down, and my self-esteem went up. But then something not so good happened: I began noticing other people’s dietary choices and judging them. Isn’t it funny that often when we find a scoring system that grades us well, we use it to lift ourselves up and put others down. It seems to be an innate human tendency to cling to self-made standards in an attempt to justify ourselves—systems of self-justification and guilt-management.
Paul warned the Philippians about doing such things. Some were putting their confidence in religious performance or cultural conformity, and Paul told them he had more reason to boast of such things: “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more” (3:4). Yet Paul knew his pedigree and performance was “garbage” compared to “knowing Christ” (v. 8). Only Jesus loves us as we are, rescues us, and gives us the power to become more like Him. No earning required; no scorekeeping possible.
Boasting is bad in itself, but a boast based on false confidence is tragic. The gospel calls us away from misplaced confidence and into communion with a Savior who loves us and gave Himself for us.
What would it look like to trust in God’s grace today? How can you live and work from a place of rest and trust in His love for you?
Dear Jesus, thank You for Your love for me. I set aside the scorecards of self-justification. Those are misguided grounds of confidence.
To learn more about Jesus and His life, visit ChristianUniversity.org/NT111.
To call someone a “dog” was a terrible insult for a Jewish person to make, yet Paul applies it to those who rely on religious rules to make themselves righteous (Philippians 3:2). The rule in view here is circumcision, a physical sign of God’s covenant with His people. God implemented this practice as part of His covenant with Abram (Abraham) to make a great nation of his offspring (Genesis 17:4–19). Circumcision was “the sign of the covenant” between God and His people (v. 11), but it was only an outward sign. Moses, Jeremiah, and Paul said that God’s people are to be “circumcised in heart” (see Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 9:25–26; Romans 2:28–29). This is what God meant when He told Abram to “keep my covenant” (Genesis 17:9). Paul wrote, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation” (Galatians 6:15) that we become by placing our faith in Christ.