“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
~Philippians 3:7-8a (NRSV)
What is the Apostle Paul saying here?
Anyone who has given up, or lost, what the world typically values for the acquisition of something only eternity could validate will understand the basis of paradoxical possession; highlighted wonderfully, here for us, in Philippians.
To lose everything, but then to count that very loss as gain seems nonsensical; it is from a normal world perspective. Biblical wisdom is a non-conventional wisdom where many things that are praised hold a mysteriously elusive power hidden to the vast majority.
What point would there be, for instance, to fight for something we had already lost?
People endure those losses all the time, yet we might be insulated from such knowledge because life, for us, flows swimmingly. Then, suddenly, there is a crash—we are enlightened, immediately, to the plight of the world.
When Losses No Longer Defeat
The strength of the gospel’s power is mighty, even mightiest, in knowing that not even the defeat of loss can ultimately defeat us.
All things could be removed, many things that have intrinsic value, even to the lives that most enrich ours, and these losses—whilst they may take us into a whirlwind of sorrow, numbness, and consummate desolation—will not perpetually defeat us.
No, we’re destined to learn through these things of loss. What might read clinically is true. We are not defined by our losses as much as we are defined by the strength that gets us through those losses.
What is at the core of our learning is God—and in knowing God we know ourselves.
With each passing day of a better knowledge of the Lord we grow in a richer acceptance of our pasts, and a brighter hope subsists for the future.
Paul would not be stopped; though he had suffered much, and endured much loss, his personal story would not define him—instead, it was the Lord Jesus and the corpus of grace that the apostle found most alluring. All things were worth losing in comparison to the marvellous acquisition of salvation.
When we are able to count our deepest losses as gains under Christ we know we have transmuted ourselves in spiritual healing. We know we’re in a position to press onward. Such is the hope of the disciple of the Lord Jesus.
Pressing onward is not about denying the past; it’s about celebrating the past—that the losses that vanquished us will no longer define us when we have a measure of eternal weight and significance compelling us ever forward.
The true possessions we have far outweigh those we think we have acquired; our material possessions may be few, but spiritual possessions are the truly significant ones. The possession of a relationship in Christ: a worthy acquisition above all else.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.