The places grace empowers us
Thu May 23, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
‘Each next risk is the biggest one’: James MacDonald talks with Mark Driscoll
Wed May 22, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Tue May 21, 2013
by Amanda Edmondson
From prison to ReTrain: Russell’s story
Mon May 20, 2013
9 types of leaders in Scripture
Mon May 20, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
Count All Things What!?
“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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil 3:8–9).
Raising the Stakes Further
What’s left after putting everything on the table in exchange for knowing Christ? Maybe not what you’d expect. Up until this point, Paul has treated the things he’s willing to trade for knowing Christ as though they were something worth keeping. By any human standard, they're priceless! So how can he raise the stakes further? By saying that in his view, these priceless things aren’t worth crap—literally. That's the literal translation of σκυβαλα ("rubbish" in the above scripture) and that’s the analogy he uses. All the things that we hold dear should be considered just as valuable as a bag of dung. In comparison to the value of knowing Christ, Paul’s most prized possessions aren’t worth squat.
When we have something of value in our culture, say a house or a car, we typically insure it against loss from fire, theft, or various kinds of destruction. We do this because we want protection against loss. When Paul says that he counts all things loss, he is still treating them as valuable. He is simply making the decision not to hang onto these valuable things, but to exchange them for Christ.
In comparison to the value of knowing Christ, Paul’s most prized possessions aren’t worth squat.
Instead of Paul considering all his stuff as “valuable, but worth the trade” for knowing Christ, Paul goes one step further. Knowing Christ is so valuable to him that in comparison, he considers his stuff to be about as desirable as feces. He shifts from saying it is worth giving up everything to saying he considers everything but Christ valueless. It isn’t even worth insuring or filing a claim for. It’s no longer a “loss,” it’s “good riddance!”
What Does This Look Like for Us?
Instead of finding his identity in these things, he casts them all on the dung heap. If that’s really what all our stuff is worth compared to knowing Christ, who wouldn’t want to make this exchange?
Paul masterfully works his way through this illustration one stage at a time to move us through the process with him. As he lists his most prized possessions, it makes us wonder about what it would look like for us. He isn’t so much devaluing them as he is increasing the value of knowing Christ. In the final analysis, they are less than worthless compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.
This adapted excerpt, courtesy of Logos Bible Software, is from Steven E. Runge’s High-Definition Commentary: Philippians. The High Definition Commentary series is practical and accessible. Each commentary has plot twists, shocking moments, and a climax—combined with professional graphics, based on a linguist's analysis of the text. All infographics are exportable for presentation software like Proclaim. Purchase the first volume here.