Scripture: Philippians 3:1-14
Key verses: (7-8) Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Reflection: “Rubbish” is a polite word to translate the Greek word in this verse. According to my Greek textbook, it could be translated “dung” or “human excrement.” Paul writes that all of his privileges and accomplishments are rubbish compared to his relationship with Jesus Christ. A pile of it.
In the mathematics of faith, Paul understood that Christ was far greater and more important than any worldly recognition. I think, for many of us, Christ is the “extra” on top of our privileges and accomplishments. We would rather not have to give those up or write them off as a loss. We prefer Christ AND those things rather than claiming Christ INSTEAD of those things.
Read verses 4b – 6 to learn Paul’s list of accolades. What’s on your list? Your inherited wealth? Your degrees? Your memberships? Your awards? Your ordination as a deacon or an elder? Your position at work or your investments? Your recognition as a volunteer? Would you pile all of those things up and call them rubbish in order to embrace the grace of Jesus Christ?
As we begin this Holy Week, we are reminded that Christ gave everything up for us. The privileges of divinity were rubbish compared to being incarnate and living in the flesh among us. The gifts of human life were rubbish on the cross compared to loving us and offering us a new way of living. How will we follow Christ this week? What goes on the dung heap so that we can follow Jesus now?
Prayer: For me, kind Jesus, was thine incarnation.
Thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation,
Thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation.
Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee,
I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
Think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving.
Author: Millie Snyder
(prayer – verses 4 and 5 of the hymn Ah, Holy Jesus written by Johann Heermann)
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].