When have you felt so caught up in the mistakes of the past that you were not able to live in the present or look to the future? Do you sometimes feel that God can’t use you because of what you were or what you have done? Paul could have looked back on all he had done before he met Jesus and not have been available to be used to bring the good news to the world in his day. Instead, he was able to let that go and serve.
- What from your past do you need to leave behind so that you can serve God where he has placed you today?
READ THE WORD: PHILIPPIANS 3:1-11 (ESV)
3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for 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; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 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— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 3:8b-11. Verses 3:1-8a were covered previously.)
- In his past, Paul’s righteousness came from his knowledge and living out of the Jewish law (vss. 4-6). Where did he then say his righteousness came from, and why (vs. 9)?
- What was Paul’s attitude toward his past accomplishments (vs. 8)? Why was he willing to let them go? What did he gain?
- The result of faith is to know Christ. What are the ways Paul was able to know Christ (vss. 9-11)?
- Are there any of your own accomplishments that you need to let go of and count as loss to gain a full life with Christ?
RESPOND TO GOD
There is gain in being able to let go of the things of the past so that you live in the present with Christ and look forward to the future. For Paul, letting go of the past meant not clinging to the accomplishments of his own life and letting the life of Jesus be the primary identifier of his entire existence. If we lose anything, it is so “that [we] may know him and the power of his resurrection.” Faith sometimes means suffering loss; but we gain more than can be imagined.
- Take time to ask God what you need to leave behind and count as loss so that you will be available to serve him today in all the joy he has for you.