Philippians 3:7-9. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
There is a direct correlation in the Christian life between gain and loss. In Christ, there is no gaining without losing. And in each loss there is the potential for gain. Why? Because we simply can’t gain Christ and the world at the same time. We can’t gain the world without losing the soul. And only when we lose the things of this world will we ever hope to gain the knowledge (experience) of Christ. This is the great gospel reality that must guide our entire lives. Every choice. Every attitude. Every ambition. Every relationship and every endeavor.
Remember, Paul is writing these things from prison while facing possible execution. Over the course of his Christian life this Apostle has lost it all. His position as a leading religious scholar and Pharisee. His fame as a persecutor of those superstitious and divisive Christians. All his fortune and family. His health, wealth, and prosperity. Ethnic and national pride. Everything is now counted as loss by the Apostle, even as rubbish (poo). Every earthly honor that a person might attain in this life, Paul now sees as trash. Just worthless obstacles that only get in the way of knowing Christ. Paul has counted up the value of his life before Christ and found no eternal worth in any of it. Even his own self-righteousness. His moral efforts. His zeal for the law of God. This too is placed in the loss column.
But, just like you and me, he is not left with nothing. He has lost everything in order to gain more. He has given up the lesser for the greater. Paul isn’t lamenting his loss in Philippians 3. He is rejoicing over it. He is glad he’s lost it all. How can this be? Because he has gained Jesus. He has gained a new reason for living. An eternal source of hope and strength that can never be taken away. An eternal status of love. An eternal honor of the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Christ.
Is this how you see your losses?
What if everything lost in this life was an opportunity to know Christ and his love and grace more and more? From the tragic loss of someone we love, to the annoying loss of your car keys. From losing your reputation, or your health, to losing your wallet, or your time. What if each loss is a chance to gain Christ? To experience Christ in a fuller or deeper way? What if each of life’s losses is an opportunity to embrace suffering as a chance to lose what we all need to lose most of all, our self-righteousness – not having a righteousness of my own.
And what if all our planning, and scheming, and dreaming in this life is all just actually rubbish? What if all our recovery efforts and pain avoidance, our “getting over things,” or “moving on,” is all just a form of self-righteousness that is preventing us from gaining a deeper experience of our Lord’s mercy? That is, it is keeping us from being truly alive, truly human. Is it possible that we are missing out on knowing Christ in a greater way because we are so busy trying to find relief and gain control?
So what have you lost today? This week? This month? Can you name your losses?
And more important, can you see these losses as access points to God? To Christ? To a participation with the cross of Jesus? Could the loss of all things bring about the gaining of Christ?
“To live is Christ” means every loss in life is the opportunity for glorious gain. The gaining of a deeper knowledge and a fuller feeling of the love of God in Christ. This is the great contradiction of Christianity, the paradox of the gospel. Gaining is losing, but losing is gaining. Gaining Christ.
What have you lost recently (big or small)?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you have everything in Christ allow you to count everything else as loss?
Christ in you
How have you been experiencing Christ’s love more deeply through loss recently?
Playlist: Gaining Christ.
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