If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
We are all proud of something, and that’s not necessarily wrong. You might be proud of your family and of how your hard work and sacrifices have enabled your children to find success in life. You might be proud of what you have accomplished in your career. You might be proud of a skill you have learned, honed and perfected. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in the good things you achieve in life, especially those things that positively impact the people around you. All the good things you accomplish, all the goals you achieve, all the ways you better yourself can be sources of pride, but none of them are the reason God loves you and promises you everlasting life.
Paul was an over-achiever, a star pupil, a type-A go-getter who got a lot done. That was true in his early years, before he met Jesus, and just as true after his conversion. Paul had lots of reasons to feel proud of what he accomplished in life. And yet, he considered them all “garbage” (refuse, sewage) in comparison with what Christ accomplished for him. It is only through Jesus’ death and resurrection that Paul could be saved.
Same goes for you and me. The greatest thing any of us can do in this life is “becoming like [Jesus] in his death.” The greatest honor any of us can ever achieve is to be declared righteous by God “on the basis of faith” because of what Jesus did for us, not because of what we can do for ourselves. So, we take pride in Jesus, in his death and resurrection, and in his saving work in our lives. Nothing else compares.
Thank You, Jesus, for all You accomplished for me, even dying to set me free. I rejoice in Your death and resurrection that give me life. Help me to serve You in faith and righteousness. I ask this in Your powerful name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian