“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8)
On Memorial Day we remember many who sacrifice. They endure unimaginable hardships. They sacrifice their time, careers, relationships, and their very lives so that we, their fellow countrymen, might enjoy freedom. The charity of these brave men and women reminds me of two who gave even more: the Apostle Paul and Jesus Christ.
Paul was going places. There is no telling where his Jewish pedigree might have taken him. He had accomplished everything seemingly required for advancement. Yet, everything changed on Paul’s journey to Damascus. And, years later, when we find Paul writing in Philippians, his priorities have long since shifted. No longer was his chief concern how to keep the law, but instead his major concern was proclaiming that righteousness came only by faith, that on the cross Christ had fulfilled all the demands of the law.
The apostle Paul had plenty of reasons to have confidence in the flesh. He says as much, “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, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). I imagine there were many spoils that went along with being such a prominent person in the Jewish community; power, prestige, opportunity and praise. But once changed by the gospel, what Paul once would have looked forward to and considered gain, he now counted as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?” (Luke 9:25) Paul sacrificed much so that others could know the freedom found in salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Christ is the message of His sacrifice. His leaving the glory of Heaven to take on human form, be born in the lowliest of circumstances and live a life of poverty. His birth, life, and ministry. His suffering. His death. His resurrection and ascension. His becoming sin as a substitute for you and me. Through faith His substitution means I become righteous.
The gospel demands our allegiance. Ours is a call to follow Christ above all things. It may be hard given the spoils this world offers. It may be hard having to forgo power, prestige, opportunity and praise, but in the end, to forsake Christ for those things, or for that matter, anything, will never be worth it.
Jesus is better!