Philippians 3 nlt
Paul is very honest in Philippians about the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice for us. A relationship with Jesus requires priority, a deep intentionality: “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v8). He had every human reason to have confidence in himself: he was purely Jewish, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a member of the Pharisees, who, “demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law” (v5). His zeal & love for his job (which included “harshly persecuting the church”) was what he lived for, before Jesus. He says of himself, “I obeyed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault” (v6). He didn’t play around on the job. He was perfect in his role, faultless…but in need of a savior, as we all are. He goes on to say, “I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done” (v7).
Paul’s words are an encouragement to be obedient and intentional. He says, “But we must be sure to obey the truth we have already learned” (16). He urges us to pattern our lives after his and to learn from each other (v17). He reminds us that there are many who don’t live godly lives, who only “think about this life here on earth” (v19). “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly awaiting for him to return as our Savior” (v20). Even through his descriptive words, and for our sake, Paul is straining toward the goal. Starting in verse 8 Paul lists his intentional process of pursuing Jesus:
1. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage so that I may have Christ and become one with him.
2. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead (v9-11).
3. I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven (v13-14).
I’m so thankful that Paul’s example of intentionality has been shared with the world. Like Paul, may we keep working toward that day when we will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved us for and wants us to be (v12).