In what do you trust? | Daily Office Devotional 2021/9/11

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

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. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard 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 one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained.

Philippians 3:1-16

In what do put our trust? Here, Paul was dealing with a problem very specific to the Philippian community’s context. There were some Christians going around insisting on the need to observe the Jewish Torah in order to be justified before God, including the need to be circumcised. Paul regarded them with disdain, believing their insistence on Torah observance missed the entire point of Christ’s work. He testified that if that was what truly matters then he had already attained that as a “Hebrew born of Hebrews” and a zealously observant Jew. Yet, when he encountered Jesus Christ for himself, he realised that all that he was and had were merely “rubbish”compared to the “surpassing value of knowing [him].” Christ has come as a fulfilment of the Torah, hence it is being found in him by faith that we are reckoned to be righteouse and not scrupulous Torah observance.

While Paul was dealing with a problem of his time, he still confronts us with a question of what is it that we put our trust in. Do we believe that we are righteous before God because of our pedigree and our abilities—being born into a Christian family and doing all the Christian things like going to Sunday School and serving in ministries—or because of an abiding faith in Christ? It’s always easier to trust in what is manifestly perceptible and immediately attestable, but it inevitably leads to self-righteousness and a wall of pride between you and others. Yet, the truth is that such fleshly “works” are rubbish compared to the surpassing value of Christ and his work. May our trust be always in Christ and not in ourselves.

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