His was a bio that would certainly rise to the top of the “who’s who” in the world he grew up in. His bloodline was a good line. From an infant his parents dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s to ensure that he would get on the right track. He was smart . . . always at the top of his class . . . always given advance placement and accepted into the classes of the best teachers. Not only was he smart, but he had a great, internally driven, work ethic . . . pursuing what he pursued passionately . . . accomplishing what he accomplished because he believed in it. According to the values of the world he grew up in, he was tracking for great success. But he gave it all up . . . because he discovered something better . . . something of surpassing worth.
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ . . . (Philippians 3:4b – 8 ESV)
Paul had it all . . . and yet he’d give it all up for the sake of Christ . . . that he might gain Christ . . . for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.
Peterson translates it “the high privilege” in The Message, but it’s more than just a statement of privilege. Look at any of the major translations and the idea is that of relative superiority. Knowing Christ is of “surpassing value” in the NASB . . . it is of “surpassing greatness” in the NIV . . . it is “the excellence” in the NKJV . . . it is, to refer to one of Jesus’ parables, that “one pearl of great value” that is worth selling everything else for (Matt. 13:45-46). It is, to use a more modern term, over the top!
Pause for a moment and reflect on the relative worth of what it is to know “Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Not just know about Jesus, but to know Jesus experimentally . . . through encounter and through experience. To have the active agency of His blessed Spirit at work in us to give us the mind of Christ through the inspired word of God. By that same Spirit, to interact with Him as we draw near in the secret through prayer or, as we draw near with His people through worship. And beyond that, His Spirit engaging our spirit throughout the day, 24/7, such that we know the reality of communion with the One who would claim us as His own. How much is that worth? It is of surpassing worth.
To know Christ Jesus my Lord. To know Christ, the promised Messiah . . . the anointed . . . God’s holy Servant come to do His will . . . the Son of God . . . King of Kings. To know Jesus, He who name means Savior . . . come as perfect man to redeem fallen man . . . come as the Lamb of God to give His life as a ransom for many . . . come as the Great Shepherd to gather His flock . . . come as the Bridegroom to make ready for Himself His bride. To know my Lord . . . mine . . . me, individually and personally . . . to know my Sovereign . . . and bow the knee to Him who alone is worthy of the highest places of my heart and soul. To know Him . . . that is of surpassing worth.
And when you’ve identified that which is most excellent . . . that which is of greatest value . . . that which is of surpassing worth . . . everything else kind of falls in place. That which needs to be scrapped, we’ll scrap for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. That which needs to be pushed down in the priority list of things to do, will find it’s lower place for the surpassing worth of know Jesus. That which needs to be given a pass we’ll take a rain check on because of the surpassing worth of knowing my Lord.
In order that I might gain Christ . . .
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .