Philippians 3:7-14 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord… That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead… Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus… For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul had a pretty impressive resume, to say the least. When it came to the Jewish law, he was “the man”. His knowledge and position would have been the envy of any young man aspiring to be a religious leader or role model. He had given his life chasing hard after all those things that would make him righteous in the eyes of the law. But then something happened – Paul met Jesus. And when he did, everything changed. All the things he had given his life for were no longer important, because instead of pursuing knowledge, prestige, the holiness of the law, and man’s applause and accolades, His high-speed pursuit changed directions toward a single goal and a single Being – Jesus Christ.
In this chapter, Paul, like any good preacher, starts off the middle of his sermon by saying “finally brethren”. He then goes on to write the second half of his letter to Philippians :). But I’m sure thankful he did, because we find here invaluable principles to help us to pursue (chase) Christ as we live here below. Let’s see what Paul did to “finish his course (pursuit)” with joy.
- Paul counted his accomplishments, past and present, as loss (vs7-8) – Maybe it was a great doctrinal dissertation, or a tremendous sermon he preached. Maybe it was the Scripture he had memorized from a child. Maybe it was his training in the law. Paul realized that the only thing that really mattered was his position in and knowledge of Christ. We might have merits to our name, or “great” accomplishments, but if we’re going to finish our course with joy, we ought to glory only in the cross and in Christ!
- Paul had the right perspective on “things” – When he had to choose between valuing things or winning Christ, he “counted all things as dung, that I might win Christ”. What value do we place on things that we possess? If we’re to pursue Christ like Paul did, we must have the right perspective on things.
- Paul pursued hard after a relationship with Jesus (vs 10) – Verse ten ties the former verses to it and leads to the following ones. Paul was willing to suffer loss, to count things as dung, to trust Christ, for the purpose of knowing Him. It didn’t matter what it took – the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death – it didn’t matter if Paul could know Jesus! How is my relationship with Him today? Do I have a burning passion like we see here to “know Him…”? Let this be the first desire of our morning, the driving force of our day, and the that which we dwell on at night.
- Paul pressed toward the mark (vs 14) – The word press literally means “to follow after; to pursue”. Paul chased after it. Wherever life led, as long as it was leading toward that day, Paul ran on. When it was hard, he pursued. When he was persecuted, he pursued. When it was tiresome, he pursued. Paul kept his eyes on the finish line, pressing toward the day when he’d see Jesus and receive the prize.
- Paul’s conversation was in heaven (vs 20) – Paul didn’t chase after earthly things, but heavenly things. His lifestyle was “in heaven”. As a runner isn’t thinking about those things around him as he pursues the finish line, or as in a high speed pursuit nothing around matters, but following hard after the target, if we’re to chase Jesus and “win Him”, we must devalue earthly things, and live with heaven on our minds. We must realize that one day we will be there, with Jesus, giving account and receiving reward or suffering loss, and pursue accordingly.
- Finally, Paul looked to Jesus (vs 20-21) – Watching police pursuits is exciting. One thing we know is that, once the helicopter has it’s eye on someone, they’re not going to get out of view! That camera man is not going to let him go or get away. This may be a poor illustration, but we need to be like the cameraman in that helicopter in the high-speed chase. Once we get a glimpse of Jesus and “that day” comes into view, let us never take our eyes off of Him.
In this chapter we see why Paul was able to finish his course with joy. Once he saw Christ, he pursued Him till the day he met Him. Let us seek to do the same today!