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….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 mean possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
The ultimate goal here is to attain the resurrection of the dead. But the immediate goal is to know Christ in such a way as to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death. The Apostle Paul is saying he wants to share in the sufferings of Christ. He knows that there is not another road to becoming like Christ in his death so that he may attain to the resurrection from the dead. What is interesting is that he suffers the loss of all things in order to get to share the sufferings of Christ. He seems to be citing two different sufferings: the loss of all things and sharing in Christ’s sufferings. He seems to equate gaining Christ with sharing in his sufferings and is looking at the loss of all things to be a way to that goal.
When Paul says, ”For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things”, isn’t that the same as sharing Christ’s suffering? No, that is our suffering. We must suffer the loss of the world to gain Christ. Once we “gain” Him in such a way that His name is lived through us; then we get to share His sufferings. We get to be persecuted for the greatest and most powerful name in all time, Jesus. So it is all about more of Christ for us who love Him, but there seems to be suffering that is required on our part and a suffering that comes as a consequence. All is granted by the Holy Spirit, but we do have our place to take in it.
What is Paul meaning by “all things”? In Phil. 4, he says that he has learned the secret of facing plenty, hunger, abundance and need; so I don’t think suffering the loss of all things means all or most material or physical things. We can make a big conversation about what a person ought or ought not to have in the sense of material things. Possibly one does need to lose some material possessions in this kind of suffering; God alone knows each man’s heart. But the things the Apostle refers to in this passage preceding verse 8 have to do with esteem and position. They have to do with proving oneself. We are all tempted to prove to the world who we are; heathen and Christian alike.
Jesus was tested in the dessert with this same temptation we all have. Satan taunted Him to prove Himself. Prove you are the Son of God and make bread. Prove you are the Son of God and let the angels rescue you when you fall. And; prove yourself in the world with all the kingdoms I can give you. Many times Jesus was asked to perform a sign to prove who He said he was. Jesus refused to take any offer to prove Himself and to even prove God’s power at that time. In refusing to prove Himself, he proved who he esteemed as greater; The Father. And so with us; when we turn down the offers from Satan and from our flesh to prove who we are, we prove the greater, Jesus. What are you tempted to prove you are, good Christian? Humble, smart, savvy, knowledgeable, biblical, daring, loving, evangelical, truthful? The offers are many. When we proclaim God’s word the question is not what we are trying to prove, but who. If we are to suffer the loss of all things, we must suffer the loss of esteem among men. It is the greatest sinful desire of humans; to “be somebody”. We must suffer the loss of being somebody. We must starve out every desire for it by turning down all offers. It is not an issue of whether anyone knows your name. It is more an issue of what drives a person’s heart. If we follow Jesus faithfully, we will be an example to someone; they will know who we are and when they think of us they will think more lovingly about Jesus as a result. That proves God’s love, not ours.
Lest we be fearful of our every hidden motive, let us remember that we are children. We are not up to such suffering – the loss of all things. At every turn is the question, “is it real or is it for esteem?” God will guide us by His love and care in Christ. If we will delight in Jesus above all else, we will also desire to share in His sufferings and we will throw all else off to get to it. It has been granted to us – to suffer for Jesus, to suffer with Jesus; and to be risen and exalted with Him. God will bring to pass what He grants.
- Ruben & Deb
- I met Jesus in March 1997 and soon after I began the practice of writing things down that were happening in my life with the Lord. Over the years, in the rare times that I have looked back into older journals, I have found that the things the Lord was showing me then are the same things He is showing me now. This does not make them less helpful, on the contrary, it makes them more helpful. God is exactly who He says He is and is doing all that He said He would. We need to be reminded of God and His faithfulness. The intention of this blog is to encourage God's people to continue and to grow in their confidence in Jesus Christ. The things posted here are from my journal and are meant to be an example of God's love and help as He loves and helps me. I would expect that you would have reason to trust Jesus Christ with your life (and death) if you haven't heard about Him so I invite you to go to my page "About Jesus" to see why you can and should have every confidence in Jesus and Jesus only for all things.