In terms of Judaism, Paul was as good as it gets (4b-6). He was a prize specimen of a Jew. He had first rate credentials, religiously speaking. He worked hard to get right with God and believed he was accepted by Him. If anyone was ‘in’ it was surely Paul. He’d totted up lots of ‘brownie points’. Probably everyone who knew him thought it, and he certainly did. Paul belonged to ‘’the tribe of Benjamin’’. This was a prized heritage among the Jews. Israel’s first king, Saul, came from this tribe (1 Samuel 10:20-24). The tribes of Benjamin and Judah were the only two tribes to return to Israel after the exile (Ezra 4:1). He was also ‘’a Pharisee’’: a member of a very devout Jewish sect that scrupulously kept its own numerous rules in addition to the laws of Moses. He felt he had so much going for him.
But ‘’After showing that he could beat the Judaizers at their own game…Paul showed that it was the wrong game.’’ ‘The Life Application Study Bible.’ There came a point when Paul repented (7). He changed his mind about the things that matter most. He saw everything in the light of Christ and so came to see everything in its true perspective. It’s been said that in this seventh verse he is like an accountant. Everything that was at one time ‘’profit’’ to him, he now put down in the ‘’loss’’ column.
‘’All I once held dear, built my life upon, All this world reveres and wars to own. All I once thought gain I have counted loss, spent and worthless now compared to this.’’ Graham Kendrick.
Paul came to see that knowing Jesus matters more than anything. Nothing comes anywhere near in value and worth. The things Paul once valued he now considered ‘’rubbish’’ – and I understand that here he uses a strong word that our translation may not fully convey.
For Jesus’ sake he had ‘’lost all things’’ (8) Compare this with chapter 4 verse 12. He had not literally lost everything, but the point is it cost him dear to be a Christian. He lost everything that had been most important to him in his pre-conversion life. None of these things mattered to him anymore; not compared to knowing Jesus (8b-10). He had tasted the sweetness of Christ, and could not want more – or be satisfied with less. Everything he now wanted was wrapped up in Jesus, even if that meant suffering, along with resurrection life and power. Jesus was the only way to be right with God.
‘’’The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.’’ The Message.
‘’Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you; there is no greater thing. You’re my all, you’re the best. You’re my joy, my righteousness, and I love you Lord.’’
Prayer: ‘’The greatest thing in all my life is knowing you; I want to know you more.’’