Do I Still Consider it Loss?
Dr. A. K. Lama
We are in Lent season. Lent is the forty day fasting observed in the traditional Churches before the observance of the passion week, Good Friday, and then Easter.
This tradition finds its root in the forty days fasting of Jesus Christ, who in his humanity subjugated his body to the Lordship of his heavenly father. Three times he defeated the Satan by quoting the Holy Scripture “it is written,” symbolizing his absolute loyalty to God and absolute denial of the Satan. Remember his prayer, “Father, not my will but your will be done.”
In denying the Satan, he overcame the lust of flesh, the pride of life, and the lust of eyes. He declared his absolute confidence in God and the Holy Scripture.
Jesus had the options to turn the stones into bread and eat them. He had the options to jump off the cliff show his power. He had the options to gain everything that Satan had to offer him.
But he consider all those gains as LOSS.
All the worldly profit that denies an absolute loyalty to God is not a profit but it is a loss. In spiritual realm, what we see as a profit are not really profit but they are loss.
Jesus did loss business not only during 40 days of fasting. But through out his 33 years of life on this earth. Loss of favor from the religious teachers, Pharisees, and Saducees. Loss of security and loss of life. It was continuous a loss business from the worldly point of view as he wanted to do his father’s will.
In our humanity, we may not like to do such a loss business. We may do a profit business.
Left on a sinking ship were the captain and three sailors. The captain spoke first. "Men, this business about a captain going down with his ship is nonsense. There's a three-man life raft on board and I'm going to be on it. To see who will come with me, I will ask you each one question. The one who can't answer will stay behind. Here's the first question: What unsinkable ship went down when it hit an iceberg?" The first sailor answered, "The Titanic, sir." "On to the next question: How many people perished?" The second sailor said, "One thousand five hundred and seventeen, sir." "Now for the third question," and the captain turned to sailor number three. "What were their names?"
It is possible that we may shift our confidence in ourselves rather than God. We may victim of the lust of the flesh, pride of life, and the lust of our eyes and begin to look for proft.
Our lifestyle, our worldview, and our philosophy of life may have very little difference from those who do not know Jesus Christ. We may be sincere victim of our own pride, selfishness, prejudices, and our sinful nature.
There are two ways that we may put our confidence in ourselves.
On the one hand, it can be our Low self-esteem. Those of us who have grown in a negative environment, we may entertain inferiority complex. We may be self-absorbed, self-occupied, self-conscious with self-pity.
What do others think about me? How about my hairstyle? What about my cloth? How do I look?
Why others do not appreciate me? Why am I not getting enough attention? What others are thinking about me? Etc. etc. Such individual continues to seek confidence in themselves. Their source of confidence and strength is themselves. Even if they think about Christ or think about others, they think for their own sake.
On the other hand, it can be High self-esteem. Looking for faults in others always. Somehow to prove that the guy next door is not as good as he is.
Ya!, I like that guy what he says BUT blah blah…. He is wonderful person BUT, he blah, blah ….. . Brother! I appreciate your hard work BUT…. blah blaah. These people use BUTs to push their agendas to get attention to themselves.
They enjoy making look others inferior. Because in their mind they have the best and the final answer. Within their limited perspectives they can connect things logically better than others. Apparently, there are too much confidence in their own flesh.
The latter was the problem with the Church at Phillipi in A. D. 61. Phillipi was a city named after the father of Alexander the Great, Philip of Macedon, who captured the city from the Theracians in 360 B.C. It was in fact “Rome in miniature form.” The city was inhabited by mostly Roman citizens who took pride in their wealth and status. It is no wonder that the Church had too many smart leaders who liked to outsmart each other. It became worst, especially when two outspoken women Euodia and Syntyche, which is mentioned in chapter 4 of Phillipians, had gone public in their quarrel against each other.
The Church at Philipi, in stead of focusing the unreached frontier of Romans and Greeks, were engulfed in their internal problem of disunity.
The greatest harm that can cause to the work of God in any Church is when the members and leaders love their personal opinions more than they love fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let us now turn to the text. Although our central text is Phil 3: 7-10, we will browse through entire letter.
Notice chapter 1: 1, 5
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.
Philippians 1:5 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
Paul regards the Christians at Phillipi as the saints in Jesus Christ (verse 1) as well as partners in the gospel (verse 5).
But as you read the four chapters of his letter, it becomes apparent that there are people in the Church at Phillipi who have failed to know Jesus Christ personally on a daily basis. As a result, they are confused. They do not realize that what apparently seems to be a gain is actually a loss.
Paul describes them in various ways.
They are immature Christians.
They use gospel to promote themselves (1:16-17),
They lack humility, kindness, and compassion for others (2:1-4),
They are selfish (2:3),
Their attitude towards other is evil (2:5),
They cause division and contention in the Church (4:2).
They are saved but they are not working out their salvation with fear and trembling. They have taken the present salvation for granted (2:12). Their confidence is in themselves, not in Christ. The have forgotten the life of Jesus Christ as their model to emulate.
Others are carnal Christians. Concerning them Paul writes in Phil 3:18-19,
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
Paul is saying, “Watch out! You may have come very close to those
who live like the enemies of the cross of Christ
whose destiny is destruction
whose god is their stomach
whose glory is shame
whose mind is on earthly things
Still others who promotes the practice Jewish circumcision for salvation
Regarding them Paul writes in Phil 3:2,
2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.
Whatever the case may be, it is obvious that the Christians at Phillipi have put aside the life of Jesus aside and so there is no Christ likeness.
They have division among themselves.
This is the context in which Paul writes about his loss and gain philosophy to the church at Philipi.
He wants the church at Philipi to understand is that knowing Jesus Christ is a business of loss not gain. And it must be continual loss compared to surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.
He writes in Philippians 3:3-11
3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh-- 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
In this passage, Paul ridicules Christians who have failed to understand life of faith in Jesus Christ.
Christianity is not Jesus plus but Jesus alone. There is no upper class or lower class. There is no Greek and no Jews. All are same.
We are all sinners saved by grace through faith. There is no righteousness or good work except the work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ on the cross which is capable of bringing salvation to human beings.
In fact, all that we consider profit for us from the worldly perspectives are actually loss.
I. Our profits are Loss
For an example, you want to brag about your profit through circumcision, the sign of the Abrahamic covenant.
I was one among them, but that did earn salvation to me.
You want to talk about a lineage as God’s chosen people, I am born as Benjamite. In case you do not know, Israel had its first King Soul from the tribe of Benjamin. You may also like to know that the tribe of Benjamin were the only tribe who did not betray King Solomon and joined the tribe of Judah to form the blessed southern kingdom of Isarel.
But such a lineage do not attain eternal life for me.
I also would like you to know that I am son of Pharisee trained as Pharisee under the great teacher Gamaliel. I was well informed on legal aspect of the rule and I have observed the rule legalistically.
However, these credentials did not earn salvation for me.
I was passionate devotee of the God of Israel. I was on a mission to destroy all Christians from the face of the earth because I saw them as heretics. I was one among those who encouraged the public killing of Stephen. However, all militant zeal of YHWH did not bring salvation to me.
No! none of these credentials helped me to attain salvation.
In fact, if I bank on these credentials, and try to make profit out of it. It will make proud and arrogant and unfit for the salvation.
So all the credential that I though was a profit, I don’t brag about them.
In fact I now consider them loss for the sake of Christ.
But rather I brag about one credential that has helped me that is
I am chief of the sinner, who is saved by his grace alone.
In 1 Timothy 1:15-16, he writes,
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-- of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
I am the sinner whom God had mercy on the road to Damscus
In fact, this loss of all my credential is not actually a loss but it is gain.
What is more now
Because I Consider everything a loss
compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ
B. The loss has brought gain to me
So, now I have one ambition that I may gain Christ and be found in him
I want to know Christ
In his suffering, in his death, and in his resurrection
Remember for Paul, Christ’s suffering, and death on the cross were not only a redemptive act, but his suffering and his death was also an example for all the believers to follow.
Philippians 1:29 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
When Paul says I want know Christ, he makes a statement, which is profound and pregnant with the richness of the theological implications.
This ambition of knowing Christ embodies in itself the mysterious power and force for his dynamic ministry.
Philippians 1:20-21 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
1. Why Paul want to know Christ more?
Remember Paul did not accept Jesus Christ in a Bible Study or in an a Crusade meeting.
He had known Christ who spoke to him on the road to Damascus.
He knew Christ better than many of us.
He had known Christ through the eyes of Peter and other apostles.
Paul already knew Christ who had emptied himself became no body.
a. The Christ who emptied oneself (2:6-7)
But knowing Christ intellectually is not enough
Knowing Christ in our conversion experience is not enough
Knowing Christ in our day to day life blessings and the favor of God is not enough.
Paul says in Philippians 3:10-11
10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
In another words, Paul is saying I want to learn Christ through experience not through head knowledge but life knowledge.
I want to be like Jesus in every aspect on daily basis and continually.
C. Our continuous loss is better gain
Paul inserts two examples for people who put premium on surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.
b. He had seen such Christ in the life of Timothy (2:20)
c. He had seen such Christ in the life of Epaproditus (2:30)
He writes in Philippians 3:15
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
Have I become complacent of knowing Christ on daily basis?
Do you feel that you already know enough of Christ that you can afford to be careless in what you think, what you speak, and what you do?
Do you still hunger and thrust to manifest Christ in your daily life?
The world wants to see Jesus in our life but it will have if we still continue to consider loss on daily basis.
So did Paul fulfill his ambition.
He suffered, And He died, But he brought glory to Christ
The last letter he wrote to Timothy,
2 Timothy 4:6-8
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Also to all.
Will I be with Paul?
Will the SBC member be with Paul?
May God help us.