"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 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 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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (3:7-11)
Paul was comparing all of his own merits (circumcised on the 8th day, an Israelite, Benjamite, Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, zealous defender of Judaism against Christian teaching, blameless under the law), the laurels he had which recommended him among his people, to the merit of Christ and the righteousness we have in Him by grace through faith. He called them utter garbage. All of the outward signs that he had which would indicate to other people that he was on the right track, that he was pleasing to God, that he would gain heaven: all worthless. Less than worthless compared to Christ.
It's really incredible that, even though Paul did have all of these wonderful things in his life to commend him to men, he said they were nothing. They had no real worth in his eyes, since only Christ and His righteousness had any lasting value. Paul says that he counts all of his merit as waste that he might: know Christ, share in his sufferings, become like Him in His death, and to attain to the resurrection of the dead. If Paul, oh-so-impressive Paul, considered that he had to lay aside all his own merit and trust in Christ alone for salvation, for the resurrection, then so do I. I must consider all my own merit as worthless and hope rather in Christ alone. Okay, fine. I know that I have no hope for salvation apart from Christ, that there is nothing for me to do, nothing I can do to be forgiven and be saved.
There is a difference in trusting in my "merit", however, and liking the way it looks/feels/sounds on me. I know that I can do nothing for salvation, but I also know there are things I can do solicit praise from men. I value these little trinkets, the laud of men, and even self-glorification. This is the point at which this passage has been working on my heart this week. I trust in Christ alone, but I still place a high value on other things, things which I might formerly have put my trust in. What would life look like if I, like Paul, truly thought and believed that all of my own supposed righteousness was nothing-- NOTHING? What would it be like to truly count everything which could commend me before men as rubbish? What would life be like for me to truly realize the vast gulf between Christ and these little, foul nothings?
Christ is so much more than these things. From here to the moon, to the sun, to Pluto-- so vast is the gulf, the gaping abyss between them and Him. Christ is infinitely more to be adored, honored, thought of, treasured, glorified. And should not the heart leap within me to think on Him; His beauty; and His suffering, dying, and rising love?
Lord, forgive me for loving and treasuring little bits of trash more than you. So order my values that You outshine all other things like the sun outshines a single, pitiful twinkle light. Let all my satisfaction be met in You.