ESV - 8 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
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By this statement, there is first of all a very strong lesson of having to weigh between the earthly influence that may be and our spiritual well being (spiritual well being is only ensured in Jesus). For spiritual well being has nothing to do with what background you are, what social status you are, what race you are or color, what tribe you are etc. The people of Philipi despite having had Christ as Lord and Savior, had had strong cultural and traditional attachments, just as every one of us does. Everybody has strong family attachments, tribal attachments, racial attachments etc., yet none of these is any factor for our spiritual well being. Nobody is going either way; heaven or hell on account of their race, tribe, physical beauty or ugliness, etc. The Philippians though had carried on claiming glory in their physical attributes and family and tribal backgrounds. Thus Paul wrote to the Philippians about his background. If you read from Philippians 3:4, Paul tells them that if anybody was to claim glory in the flesh, it must have been him. For he had fulfilled all the requirements of being a Jew; circumcised on the eighth day, an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, and a Pharisee and very zealous about his beliefs. To date people love to identify with Israel because they are the chosen nation of God (Deuteronomy 7:6). Everybody loves to share in the blessings of Israel. Apart from Israel, there are also nations which are prestigious to identify with because they are literally rich such as; the USA, UK, Germany, Canada, etc. Thus, some people even when they have Christ, they feel less worthy because they are not Israelites. Yet it is true that Israel is the chosen nation of God, but it is so that it is through Israel that all nations are blessed. Jesus too was Israelite. Yet Salvation is not possible on account of being or not being an Israelite, being or not being anything, but on obedience to and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. For such scenarios of who is who never only happened in Paul's days, neither are they only happening today, for they were there even in the days of our Lord Jesus. In Matthew 12:47-50 and Mark 3:31-35, when Jesus was told that His mother and brothers wanted to see Him despite the fact that He was in the middle of a sermon, so that He could give them special attention, Jesus replied that those who hear His word and do it are His mother and His brothers. In John 15:14, Jesus goes on to teach that being a friend to Him is in obeying His commands, not in any physical relationship with Him or in being from a certain tribe, race or family background. Jesus talked like this because He had realized that these people had wanted to insinuate favoritism on account of tribe, race, or family relations in Jesus' ministry. Jesus emphasized that He would never be compromised on any account other than obedience to His commands. Despite having had such a rich background, Paul wrote that he counted it all loss when he came to the knowledge of Christ. For all without Jesus comes squarely to nothing. Our knowledge of Christ should surpass anything else that can ever be. The best investment is in God. What saves us and our children aren't the earthly riches but the knowledge of Christ. For when we come to Christ Jesus, we ought to shake off all such hindrances as to limit our precious relationship with God. Jesus embraces all who come to Him by faith. Jacob was saved from Laban because he made the reference to the God of his forefathers not their riches or tribe or race (Genesis 31:42) and (Genesis 31:29). For it was a strong family because they had the true living God. For Christ is the reason for everything. "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness" (1Corinthians 1:22-23). Salvation is only in Jesus not anything else. IT IS ALL ABOUT JESUS.
I believe Paul meant that he wouldn't go back to the way he was before his conversion for anything. He tells the church at Phillipi that he had a rich tradition as a Jew, and the KNOWLEDGE of Jesus caused him to discard his tradition the same way you take out the trash. He means he won't look back Luke 9:62. It would be like a celebrity that has the fame, fortune, intelligence, beauty, and the love of the people, and is in danger of losing their soul, who has an encounter with Jesus, and is willing to dump the celebrity for the surpassing knowledge of Him. The rich young ruler was told to unload his riches and "come follow Me" by Jesus, and he chose to pass it up Mark 10:21. Paul did it and had no regrets about it.
Great question, Jeremiah Kaaya! I think Paul meant that he was gladly trading his religion for a personal relationship with the Lord. William W. How, said in his Psalms and Hymns, Lord Jesu, when we stand afar And gaze upon Thy holy cross, In love of Thee, and scorn of self, O may we count the world as loss Consider this outline: Paul and His Lord 1 Paul Committed himself as a Personal Trust to ‘Christ Jesus my Lord’ Phil. 3:8 2 Paul Coveted for himself a Precious Treasure—‘the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord’ Phil. 3:8 3 Paul Contemplated his experience of a Present Transition—‘be found in Him’ For this he Consecrated all his Energies Phil. 3:8,12 On this he Concentrated all his Efforts Phil. 3:13 and his Lord would Compensate him with ‘the prize of His high calling’ Phil. 3:14; 2 Tim. 4:8 Missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” This is what Paul experienced: he lost his religion and his reputation, but he gained far more than he lost. (Wiersbe)
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