7 These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. 8 But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ 9 and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. 10 The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death 11 so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead.
Paul was an ambitious man. He studied harder than others to gain an expertise in the law. He worked harder than others so that people would notice him. He took stances more extreme than others, including persecuting the early Church, in order to make a name for himself. By his own admission, Paul was self-absorbed and self-focused. He was devoted to God, but he was also devoted to the advancement of his own ego.
After his encounter with Christ, he was still devoted to God. But suddenly the center of his universe shifted: no longer was devotion a means to glorify himself. When he met the crucified and risen Christ, he began to see things very differently. What had seemed so important before – his expertise, effort, and ego – no longer seemed to matter. What mattered now was what Christ had done, not what Paul had done or could do.
Every Christian has this hard lesson to learn about ego: no matter how smart, hardworking, or talented we are, what we have to offer is so much less than what Christ has offered us. All our assets we consider loss for the sake of knowing him. Our egos don’t like this method of accounting. But what could ever compare with the value of knowing a Savior who has offered us everything?
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Is it disorienting to consider the fact that nothing you have ever done, or ever will do, contributes to God’s love and care for you? Is it disorienting to realize that no matter how hard you work, nothing you do adds to or takes away from your salvation?
Prayer: Humble Christ, we thank you that your grace works to keep our egos in check. Remind us today that no matter how great we may think we are, you alone are the Savior of the World. Amen.