“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” (Phil. 3:8).
Have you ever wondered, “What would a life that truly valued Christ above all things look like?” Perhaps we can get some idea from the man who wrote the sentences above.
Paul was a skilled craftsman, a tentmaker. As a professional in that trade he could have been constantly employed, built up his own business, and maintained a comfortable lifestyle.
But Paul was also a scholar of the highest level. He was well versed in both Rabbinic and Greek literature. He could write, speak, and debate with the best thinkers of his day. He could have opened schools or advised rulers if he had chosen to pursue an academic career.
Furthermore, Paul was at one time a respected religious leader. He was a rising star in the sect of the Pharisees with a promising future of leadership in this popular religious party. He could have even become a politician, a ruler among his own people.
Paul, however, experienced the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and power of Jesus Christ when he was saved on the road to Damascus. From that moment on, Jesus became the most important part of Paul’s life. When he wrote the verses above, he was in prison in Rome, most likely chained to a Roman guard. He had few possessions, a couple sets of clothing and a few books. His future on this earth was uncertain. He had chosen Christ above all other things, answering a call to the gospel ministry and passing up more lucrative possibilities. Doing this landed Him in jail. Was he disappointed? I will let him answer that question himself:
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:12-13).
Paul was content, even in prison. Notice, however, that he knew how to be content in abundance too. What Paul had and the situation he was in did not matter to him that much. The thing that was most significant to Paul was his relationship with his God, Jesus Christ. This is where he found his strength, his joy, his peace, his motivation, his purpose, and his treasure. And that is what the life which values Christ above all things looks like. It is a life content with plenty or with little, so long as Christ abides in the heart.
May the Lord help each of us to learn to live this kind of life!