If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phillipians 3:4-9)
This past Sunday morning, I had the opportunity to share a word with a local drug rehabilitation ministry (I was a stand in for my father in law). I shared the above text.
I always liked how Paul piles his daunting resume of accomplishments a mile high and then commences to set them ablaze before his reading audience. Paul had the right pedigree, the coveted social status, was highly educated (what would be considered three PhD’s) and was the most zealous for good works (=murder of Christians) among his peers. No man could boast in the flesh more than the apostle in chains. Before conversion, Paul lived the first century Israeli cultural equivalent of the “American Dream.”
But in Phillipians 3 he funnels all those supposed blessings into one disgusting category/latrine. Compared to the unimaginable worth of knowing Christ all of this was:
“Skuvbalon” or “Rubbish”
Admittedly, I know as much about Greek as a Japanese donkey, but I do try to rely on trustworthy sources when studying these matters. Biblical language professor, Daniel B. Wallace, of Dallas Theological Seminary says this about the term that is translated “rubbish” or “garbage” in many English texts:
The term conveys both revulsion and worthlessness in this context. In hellenistic Greek it seems to stand somewhere between “crap” and “s**t.”
I shared with the recovery group that this brings repentance into a different light. Who wouldn’t want to turn from a heaping sewer latrine to the immeasurably refreshing living water found in Christ? Like it is natural to turn your face and run from a putrid smell emanating from a sewer pipe, when we become born again it becomes natural for us to turn from the stinking trappings of the world system and turn to the beautiful sweet aroma that is Christ crucified.
I’m not trying to open up a debate about whether Paul had a potty mouth, I am trying to convey the shocking force of the language Paul is using to display the value of knowing Christ. Pile everything in the world into one gigantic stack cloud high and wide as the ocean. Throw in even legitimately good things people may desire (education, careers, respect) with the blatantly immoral (adultery, drug addiction, pride).
Now light a match and make it all a burning diaper filled dung heap.
That is what everything is worth apart from being in a relationship with
“Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phill 3:8)
To know His name, “Christ” the promised one we have been waiting for, “Jesus” the merciful one who saves us from our sin, “Lord” the holy one who sovereignly rules over us. Not just any king in a far off land, “my” King.
Knowing the living Son of God is eternally worth it.
Let everything else die in a dumpster fire.