How good do you have to be to impress God?
Does going to church every Sunday improve our standing with God? What about zealously following every religious rule in the book? Or perhaps claiming descent from a long line of religious ancestors? Well, if you think you’re good, let me introduce you to the apostle Paul—by the religious standards of his day, he was the best of the best…
…so why is he calling all of those impressive religious accomplishments “worthless”?
We are the true circumcised people of God because we serve God’s Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don’t place any confidence in physical things, although I could have confidence in my physical qualifications. If anyone else thinks that he can trust in something physical, I can claim even more. I was circumcised on the eighth day. I’m a descendant of Israel. I’m from the tribe of Benjamin. I’m a pure-blooded Hebrew. When it comes to living up to standards, I was a Pharisee. When it comes to being enthusiastic, I was a persecutor of the church. When it comes to winning God’s approval by keeping Jewish laws, I was perfect.
These things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ. It’s far more than that! I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ and to have a relationship with him. This means that I didn’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws. The opposite is true! I have God’s approval through faith in Christ. This is the approval that comes from God and is based on faith that knows Christ. Faith knows the power that his coming back to life gives and what it means to share his suffering. In this way I’m becoming like him in his death, with the confidence that I’ll come back to life from the dead.
It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:3-14 (GW)
Questions to Consider
- What is the point of Paul’s boasting in the first paragraph above?
- What religious qualifications or achievements are you most proud of?
- What does it mean to “throw away” our personal accomplishments in order to know Jesus? Do you think you could do that—and if not, what’s holding you back?
- If we don’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws, what is the purpose or value of obeying his laws at all?
- Monday Morning Scripture: Philippians 1:12-30
- Monday Morning Scripture: Romans 14 and the Christian’s Conscience
- Monday Morning Scripture: 1 John 5
- Monday Morning Scripture: “Not With Persuasive Words”
- Monday Morning Scripture: Acts 4:1-21
Posted by Andy