Spend a few minutes reading and meditating on Philippians 3:1-11.
3 So then, my brothers and sisters, be glad in the Lord. It’s no trouble for me to repeat the same things to you because they will help keep you on track. 2 Watch out for the “dogs.” Watch out for people who do evil things. Watch out for those who insist on circumcision, which is really mutilation. 3 We are the circumcision. We are the ones who serve by God’s Spirit and who boast in Christ Jesus. We don’t put our confidence in rituals performed on the body, 4 though I have good reason to have this kind of confidence. If anyone else has reason to put their confidence in physical advantages, I have even more:
5 I was circumcised on the eighth day.
I am from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.
I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
With respect to observing the Law, I’m a Pharisee.
6 With respect to devotion to the faith, I harassed the church.
With respect to righteousness under the Law, I’m blameless.
7 These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. 8 But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ 9 and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.
While the world has certainly undergone drastic changes since Paul’s day, its definition of greatness has remained the same: pure lineage, high class, respectable occupation, ample knowledge, and boundless power. Paul possessed all of these in his time, and all continue to be sought after by many today. Yet, Paul’s encounter with Christ and the ultimate decision to follow him as Lord flipped his life and priorities upside down.
Writing to the Philippians, Paul was fully aware of the competition he faced—other powerful and great voices that sought to manipulate the true message of the gospel. With those other voices in mind, Paul reminds his readers of his level of greatness compared to those others. Written like a résumé, Paul states he has no competition from an earthly perspective. He was born from the greatest tribe, was a Pharisee, and lived out the law to its fullest extent. Yet, Paul’s words are not intended to brag. On the contrary, he wants his readers to know that such things no longer define his greatness. In fact, he bluntly declares that such things are as worthless as garbage compared to the true greatness of knowing Jesus.
How are you measuring your greatness today?
In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. —Philippians 3:9