What things were gain to me, those I counted as loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do not count them but dung, that I may win Christ
God has called every man, woman, and child to follow him through His Gospel. In that great call, God expects us to follow him regardless of the cost. He spared no expense on us.
The great apostle here shows us the investments he had made for the religion of Christ. He spoke of the past sacrifice (those I counted as loss) and the continual offering of himself (I count all things as loss). Great Christians have always made great sacrificial investments for Christ because of the great blessings of being in Christ. Likewise, Paul recognized that he must abandon all things for “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” and “that I may win Christ”.
THE SACRIFICES OF THE PAST
The true religion practiced by Paul was sacrificial. Paul was able to say, “what things were gain to me, those I counted as loss for Christ” (Philippians 3:7). There was a point in time when Paul said, “None of self and all of Thee.” Many times those things of the world which seem to be beneficial actually become hinderances to our spiritual fervor. Christians, God made you for good works (Eph. 2:10). Let us not lie as we sing, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.”
The true religion of Christ is sacrificial. There has been a steady decline in piety for generations which has resulted in a “Christianity” which is more accurately a idolatrous religion with shadows of Christianity for those who still want to call themselves Christians. Sadly enough, the grace which is truly amazing has also become so mundane by familiarity that is hardly affects us at all.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a popular historical figure of late. Bonhoeffer wrote, “When God calls a man, he bids him come and die” (The Cost of Discipleship: 11). He was right. Our Lord said, “If anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Paul said “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). That was a decision that altered the remainder of his life and all of eternity. Let us make the same decision today!
THE SACRIFICES OF THE PRESENT
Past decisions have lasting consequences. We understand that when commits a crime he very well may spend the rest of his life in prison. Why do we not understand that when we commit our life to Christ we must spend the rest of our life in His service. Because of his past decision of total devotion to God, Paul also said, “I count all things as loss.” The word “count” is a present tense verb demonstrating ongoing action. The Christian religion must be ongoing in order to be true. To “be saved” without “remaining saved” is a great victory for the Devil and condemnation for the Christian.
Being a Christian, in the present tense, demands being present in Christ’s service. What if Paul had served marvelously for 30 years but abandoned God’s grace to slide back into sin for the final years of his life? Wasn’t Judas the treasurer of the apostles’ and Christ? Did he not forfeit his position with God only at the end? Our country has several retired military veterans for which we are thankful. The army of Christ has no retired soldiers–only experienced leading servants. Christ paid the price for our redemption. We pay the price for identification with him.
THE REWARD FOR THE PREPARED
The Christian who is willing to exchange all for Heaven is the one who is prepared for that home. The Christian who is in the practice of exchanging all for Heaven is one who will see that home. Christians, we must ask ourselves two questions: 1) what are we willing to give, and 2) what are we willing to receive. If we give our all to him, we will receive all from Him.
We sacrifice to honor Christ (Phil. 3:7). “Whatsoever gain I had, I counted as loss for Christ.” Paul sacrificed his religious heritage and zeal for the truth of Christianity (Philippians 3:4-6). In John 17:4-5 Jesus shows us how this principle works. Jesus prayed, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And no, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
We sacrifice to know Christ (Phil. 3:8a). “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” The “excellency of the knowledge of Christ” is that for which we fight and hunger. In order to know Christ, we must first remove the barriers between us: safety, convenience, fun, popularity, worldly success. These things may hinder us from seeing Jesus. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
We sacrifice to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8b). What does it mean to “win Christ”? It means to “be found in him” (3:9). To be among those who are counted among the righteous by God (3:9). Paul previously said he sacrificed the credits of Judaism, but now he says he sacrificed all things. All was laid at the alar in order to receive all that was offered. Sometimes we sing, “Why do wait dear brother?….There’s danger and death in delay.” What would we rather hold than the hand of God? What would we rather see than the heavenly city? What would we give in exchange four our souls?
Jesus said to the church at Laodicea: “You say I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore, I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from beings seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see” (Rev. 3:17-18).
If someone were to demand all your worldly possessions from you, you would resist. But if someone offered to take all that you had and give you things better than you could ever imagine, you would be ready to take that deal. Christ says, give me your day and I will give you a life. Give me your time and I will give you eternity. Give me your house and I will give you a home. Give me your worries and I will give you rest. Give me your afflictions and I will give you comfort. Give me your sin and I will be your Savior.