Thursday, February 22, 2024

Better Off, but Not Better

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8 NLT)

If ever there was a man who had a spiritual pedigree, it was the apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul. He was someone who had done it all.

In his own words he said, “Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law” (Philippians 3:4-5 NLT).

Then, a few verses later, he made an amazing statement: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (verses 7–8 NLT).

Paul was saying, “I know all about self-righteousness. In fact, I obeyed the law so carefully, there was no one who could claim that I broke God’s commandments.” Yet Paul was saying that the things that he once considered valuable were worthless to him. They no longer meant anything.

We shouldn’t feel arrogant as believers. Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT).

Christians are not better than non-Christians. Are we better off? Yes. But are we better? No. I’ve often described myself as one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. We need to be humble, because it wasn’t that long ago that we, too, were separated from God.

Sometimes people who were raised in a Christian environment, or in home where Christian values were honored, develop a resistance to the gospel. There can be boasting in a spiritual pedigree.

Sometimes we feel so proud of ourselves as Christians. We might sit in church and think, “Here I am at church, while my children are in Sunday school, learning the Word of God. Right next to me is my spouse of twelve years. We’ve never had any problems in our marriage to speak of. Everything is going well in our lives. We’re very spiritual people.”

But we’d better be careful because the Bible says that pride goes before a fall (see Proverbs 16:18). And 1 John 2:16 warns, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world” (NLT).

The devil is cunning. If he doesn’t catch you in other sins, he might get you through pride. You might just slip and fall. So don’t boast.

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