Thursday, 2 February 2017
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Philippians 3:7
Paul now sums up all of the confidence in the flesh of the previous two verses in one thought, beginning with “But…” The word is given to contrast those things of supposed high accolade and honor. Instead he says, “…what things were gain to me.” The word kerdos, or “gain,” in Greek is plural. Thus it says, “gains.” He lumps all of these worldly badges of honor and distinction into one, using a word which indicates profit which is “acquired through ‘faith-trading’” (HELPS Word Studies). In other words, he had put his faith in these things as that which assured him his high status in this world, and his right-standing before God in the next.
Instead though, he continues with the words, “these things I have counted loss for Christ.” He contrasts the “gains” of the first clause with zémia, or “loss.” The word signifies “damage (detriment); a mercantile term for “loss“; a “bad deal” (unsuccessful business transaction) which results in a fine (penalty, forfeiture)” (HELPS Word Studies). In other words, it is as if he first gambled on those things to secure his status, and then found that the bet was a loser. They weren’t a sure bet, or even a break-even one. Instead, they were a losing bet, and a source of loss.
The contrast of using a plural word for the supposed gains, and a singular for the actual loss is striking. All his supposed gains were realized in one great loss which was “for Christ.” He had to walk away from it all in order to come to Christ. And so come he did, with empty hands concerning each and every one of them. And not only that, but the perfect tense of the word “counted” signifies that they were loss, and they continued to be loss. There would NEVER be a time when he could use those things as a benefit. They were cast to the dust bin of the history of his life. All was Christ, and Christ was his All-in-all.
Life application: Think hard on the words of this verse. The highest honors and achievements that the greatest in Hebrew society could obtain were utterly useless in establishing a right relationship with God. If this is so, and it is, what more could you add to what Christ has done? Nothing. Diddly-doo. Trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and be content that His work alone is sufficient for your passage into the heavenly realms.
Lord God, the greatest honors and accolades of the greatest achiever in Hebrew society were set aside and counted as loss in order to obtain Christ. Lineage, education, circumcision, family affiliation, and all the rest was lumped into one mass, and then it was cast into the rubbish bin of his life… all in order to exalt Jesus Christ. If this is so with him, then what could any of us hope in that would merit Your favor from our lives? Zippo. Not a single thing. Like Saul of Tarsus, we come to You with empty hands and grateful hearts for the marvelous work of Jesus Christ. Hail that name which is above every name! Amen.