4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul starts today’s reading with a little bit of an “anything you can do, I can do better” tone. He tells us that he has lived his life in accordance with the law. He reminds us that he is better than us because he is an Israelite, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, and has held onto the Jewish laws. This is Paul, after all, who before his conversion was named Saul, the famous persecutor of Christians. Even though he has gone through his conversion, he still holds onto the fact that he considers himself blameless according to the law. Paul is “better” than the rest of us.
However, after telling us all about himself, he does a quick 180. He knows that it is not because of his credentials that he is able to say that he is righteous before God. Paul knows that it is not because of his good works but it is because of his faith in Christ that he knows he is justified.
Paul needed to rid himself of his past in order to be open to the truth. Paul needed to remind himself, and us too, that it is not by our own doing that we can come to be saved. God has already promised to us that God loves us and no matter what, it is through God’s actions we are saved.
Paul reminds us that we need to rid ourselves of the things that hold us away from God, so that we can be opened into seeing the ways in which we can deepen our relationship with God and Christ. We all want to know Christ, but Paul reminds us that we have to leave our past behind us so that we can be fully present in growing in our relationship with our Savior.
Thank you, God, for saving us. Continue to give us faith to trust in your Word and the promises that come from you. Help us to release the things that keep us from you so that we may grow in deeper relationships with you and one another. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Pastor Adam Connolly—Pastor of Outreach and Discipleship