I recently started attending a Bible study with a small group of ladies. I love meeting with them and looking deep at God’s word. This past week, one passage jumped out at me and had me considering my own actions and thoughts.
We began by reading Philippians 3:5-6, where Paul is talking about having confidence in the flesh. I’ll start with part of verse four.
“…If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
Paul had an exceptional heritage as you can see. He had every reason to be proud of who he was and who he had been. According to the Pharisees, he’d served God with zeal and worked hard. But what does he say in the next verses, Philippians 3:7-8?
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”
Paul counted all his fleshly background as worthless or rubbish. Although where he came from brought him to greater knowledge, it still counted as nothing compared to what he gained in Christ. He had no reason for pride in his past or his heritage.
As I read those words, God brought to mind my past since I have become a Christian. The question formed in my mind—Is my church attendance, my service, my time given, rubbish?
That sounds pretty drastic. My first thought was an emphatic, “No!” And, yet, as I pondered this question and the reason God laid it on my heart, I had to admit there was some truth there. There have been many times I’ve been prideful over the fact that I am so faithful to attend church and/or Bible study. There have been times I’ve been a bit judgmental of people who weren’t regular attendees or didn’t go to Bible study or serve in some capacity at their church.
Rubbish. All rubbish. Who am I to be prideful? I am a sinner saved by grace. Aren’t we all? I am sharing this because I see this as a common problem in the church today. We tend to see ourselves as a bit better than others. After all, we gave up time to come to church. We read our Bible. We pray. We may even serve in some capacity in the church or community.
Yet, as long as we take pride of any amount in what we do for the Lord, it becomes rubbish. What we have in Christ is Him. His love. His grace. His mercy. No matter who we are and where we’re at in our Christian walk, we are to be loving and humble—not considering our works to elevate us above anyone else.
This was a hard lesson for me to consider. I don’t want to believe I might be prideful, yet sometimes I am. I’m sure there were times when Paul’s background crept into his thoughts too. When that happens, we must take those thoughts captive and banish them. We must remember we are only in Christ because of His grace, not because of any of our works or our background.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
Be rid of the rubbish and glory in Christ. Serve with a humble heart, considering others above yourself. That is what I’m working toward.