Please read Philippians 3:7-11 in your Bible before answering this question: “What’s it Worth to You?”
A pastor went to the hospital to visit a lady named Maggy, who was in the last stages of her life because of cancer. She was heavily medicated and unresponsive, so he went to support her family, who was taking it hard.
When he got there, he was surprised to see the youngest daughter, Kimmy, putting lotion on her mother’s body, starting at her feet. The pastor recognized it as an expensive lotion and guessed it was more than she could afford.
As he walked in, Kimmy smiled and made him promise not to tell her children. Her kids gave it to her for Mother’s Day, since, in their words, “you never do anything for yourself, Mom.” As Kimmy put it on her mother, she remained unresponsive.
But this is the nature of a self-sacrificial love. God knows and sees these acts. They are not unnoticed, but are precious and valuable in His sight. Acts like these put others first. They point us to Him.
We live and die to attain eternal life.
- Spiritual maturity requires self-sacrifice.
We are blessed to have a number of biblical examples of heroic sacrifice.
“Father Abraham’s” sacrifice is dramatically recounted in Genesis 22. As we learned recently-concluded study in the Wednesday morning Bible study group, God had promised to make Abraham into a great nation. However, at age 100, he had no children. So when Isaac, the son of promise, was born it seemed at last God’s promises had been fulfilled. Try to imagine how devastated Abraham must have felt when God demanded Abraham sacrifice Isaac. Abraham is credited as a hero of faith because he acted immediately and in complete obedience. God spared Isaac’s life and fulfilled every promise.
John the Baptist’s act of self–sacrifice is recounted in John 3:30 where he makes one of the greatest but most brief statements of faith. When one of his disciples complained that Jesus and His disciples were getting all the baptisms and attention, John replied, “HE MUST BECOME GREATER; I MUST BECOME LESS.” John knew his role and he knew his place. He selflessly sacrificed the spotlight to the One he had come to proclaim.
Remembered as “the Doubter,” Thomas showed courage, when Jesus could not be persuaded to stay away from Jerusalem where danger threatened. In John 11:16, Thomas said to the other eleven disciples, “LET US ALSO GO, THAT WE MAY DIE WITH HIM.” I grant you that Thomas’ courage faltered in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he abandoned Jesus at the moment of His arrest. But here and years later, Thomas was ready to sacrifice his life for Jesus
In John 13:37 Simon Peter is recorded as saying, “LORD, WHY CAN’T I FOLLOW YOU NOW? I WILL LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR YOU.” I grant you that Peter’s courage deserted him a few hours later when he three times denied even knowing Jesus. Tradition tells us that years later, Peter refused to share His Lord’s form of death and asked to be crucified upside down.
Whether our sacrifices are heroic or mundane, we move from self-centeredness to self-sacrifice as we mature spiritually. Paul demonstrated great self-sacrifice in his attitude toward worldly things (7-8). WHATEVER WAS TO MY PROFIT I NOW CONSIDER LOSS FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST. I CONSIDER EVERYTHING A LOSS COMPARED TO THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF KNOWING CHRIST JESUS MY LORD. The words PROFIT and LOSS are key in vs. 7+8.
In vs. 4-6 Paul listed his reasons to have CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH. – He recites his religious history as if it were important in order to prove that it isn’t. He’s effectively saying, “If there was ever anyone who deserved salvation by satisfying the Law, I’d be the guy.” His religious achievements and circumstances were the things others might see as “profiting” Paul.
In contrast, the word LOSS sums up the stuff Paul gave up in order to have faith in Christ instead. The word PROFIT is actually in the plural form in the original language: “profits.” But the word LOSS is singular. It’s as if Paul dumped all his achievements and advantages into a single trash can and declared them together a LOSS. In order to achieve his goals, Paul had to dump the junk that kept him from Jesus.
Paul was clearly thinking about Jesus when he wrote, FOR WHOSE SAKE I HAVE LOST ALL THINGS (8). This statement elaborates on verse seven, explaining that Paul made this essential sacrifice for Jesus’ sake. As he explained in 1 Corinthians 13:3, self-sacrifice not done in love is worthless. Paul is establishing his sacrifice as worthwhile
The phrase I CONSIDER THEM RUBBISH (8) is a stronger condemnation than LOSS. The word RUBBISH is a polite translation; the literal translation of Paul’s choice of Greek words is “dung.” I was amused to see one commentary placed a picture of an outdoor latrine in the city of Philippi next to this verse. A picture is worth a thousand words and conveys emotion pretty well too.
- Paul’s life goals evidence spiritual maturity.
Goal #1 = KNOWING CHRIST JESUS MY LORD (8).
Biblically, KNOWING is not just “book smarts,” but includes knowledge gained by experience. Paul’s goal was to know Jesus by living with Him. Daily living is supposed to be ongoing experiences of God at work in our lives, personal experiences of His presence.
Goal #2 = Receive true righteousness by FAITH (9).
True righteousness is both salvation and the godly lifestyle that goes with it. It is not something we create ourselves or by keeping the Old Testament Law, it is something we receive from God by faith.
Paul’s desire was to be FOUND in Christ. It is as if he is picturing Judgment Day and declares here his hope that his name will appear in the Book of Life, the list of those who are genuinely God’s people.
Goal #3 = Know the power of His RESURRECTION (10).
Jesus conquered death through the power of God the Father. His Resurrection is the most important display of divine power. This is not only a historic event, however, it is a power for living every day.
Goal #4 = THE FELLOWSHIP OF SHARING IN HIS SUFFERINGS, BECOMING LIKE HIM IN HIS DEATH (10).
I don’t often see t word FELLOWSHIP combined with suffering and DEATH. This is another way of saying that Paul desired to FOUND in Christ. Shared experiences (good and bad) are a form of FELLOWSHIP that can bond people together. This is also true of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Without actually dying on a cross, how can we become like Jesus IN HIS DEATH? In our living, we demonstrate the sacrificial purpose of Jesus’ death to help others find eternal life too.
Goal #5 = SOMEHOW, TO ATTAIN TO THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD (11).
The word SOMEHOW seems to imply Paul felt some uncertainty about whether he was saved or not. My guess is he’s saying, “I can’t save myself, but SOMEHOW God can.” Paul refers to the promise of eternal life as THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD. Notice that is a singular event.
We live and die to attain eternal life.
The Church in America has, for the last sixty years, become more about self-improve-ment than self-sacrifice. We’ve gone from being crucified with Christ and dying to self, to settling for a “spiritual makeover.” We are content with an appearance of godliness but miss t power because we won’t pay t price.
What is the price? Jesus said, “IF ANYONE WOULD COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HEIMSELF AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY AND FOLLOW ME. FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, BUT WHOEVER LOSES HIS LIFE FOR ME WILL SAVE IT.” (Luke 9:23-24)
The question this morning is not whether or not you want to go to heaven: the question is, “What’s it worth to you to get there?” A paradox of faith is that we cannot earn or buy our way into heaven and yet, it requires the sacrifice of everything, giving even life itself over to God and His direction.
Did Paul achieve these goals? Not in this life, of course. These goals are aimed at heaven, not the horizon. As Paul wrote in verse twelve, NOT THAT I HAVE ALREADY OBTAINED ALL THIS, OR HAVE ALREADY BEEN MADE PERFECT, BUT I PRESS ON TO TAKE HOLD OF THAT FOR WHICH CHRIST JESUS TOOK HOLD OF ME. In this life, God calls us to PRESS ON, even though we know the fulfillment of these goals lie beyond the reach of our earthly years. We are to continue to obey, continue to grow, continue to mature as the years roll on. This life is precious and not to be wasted on self-centeredness. Instead, we are to spend our days investing in eternity by means of the sacrifices we make in love and in the name of Jesus Christ.