I’ve Got Confidence
Written by Quantrilla Ard (First 5 Ministries)
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”
Confidence. It’s something we either celebrate or shun based on assumptions we hold about the one exuding it – sometimes it’s others; sometimes it’s ourselves.
In today’s reading, Paul cleared up any confusion on the source of his confidence. In fact, he stated that if anyone had reason to be confident in their identity, especially who they were and where they came from, it was him. In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul offered a list of qualifications that outranked most Jewish men and Pharisees of his time:
He was circumcised according to the Jewish custom.
Each male was to be circumcised at eight days old, as a continuation of the covenant between God and Abraham in Genesis 17:10-13. Here, Paul asserts his Jewish identity from birth.
He was of the people of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin.
Lineage was a very important part of Jewish identity. In the eyes of the people, certain tribes held more status and weight than others.
He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews.
It’s possible that here Paul wanted to emphasize that he was fully Hebrew and not just Jewish. This goes back to the point before about bloodline. You could marry into or adopt Jewish customs and traditions and not be a Hebrew by ethnicity.
He was a Pharisee.
Pharisees were strict rule followers. Pharisaic beliefs became the foundation for various rituals within Judaism.
He persecuted the Church (believers of Christ).
Paul’s zeal was so strong He personally imprisoned anyone who went against Jewish beliefs.
He was considered righteous according to the Law.
He followed the commandments and Levitical laws to the letter. No one could find fault in Paul. He was fully dedicated to following the law and considered himself blameless.
Even after listing all of these gains, Paul said they were counted as losses for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7) His encounter with Jesus was life-changing and miraculous. His whole earthly identity, of which he was very proud, paled in comparison to being in the service of Jesus. The things Paul had accomplished and worked so hard to obtain for the respect and accolades of others didn’t matter to him anymore. It was then and forever only about who he was because of Christ.
It was important that the church at Philippi understood this truth so they could live in freedom. It is equally important for us today. May we find our identity in Christ alone, no matter what accomplishments we have or have not attained. May our confidence be in our Savior, Jesus, and His Spirit, through whom we can do all things.