All Things Are Loss

Philippians 3:8, 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.

For Paul, everything he owned he considered ζημία (zēmia)—a disadvantage, a loss, worthy of forfeit. As privileged first world citizens, I don’t think we see how right he is. We have the advantages of technology to make our lives easier and even to facilitate the proclamation of the Gospel; in this way, technology is a blessing. But it also puts us at a disadvantage because with it comes many distractions. How many of us have wasted time scrolling through social media that we could’ve spent in the Word or experiencing life with a physical human being? I am certainly guilty of this, and there are many other distractions besides technology.

Do we consider these things as loss—as insignificant in the eternal scheme of things? In other words, if we lost a distraction tomorrow, how upset would we be? Would it hinder our praise and honour to God? That is, would we allow it to? “Of course not,” we pious Christians might say. If this is you, get rid of a distraction for a week and see if you truly do spend more time in the Word. And if you do, how long does it last before you grow tired of the Word? (I’m speaking from experience.) These things are insignificant because of the “surpassing worth” of knowing Christ. He is the “pearl of great value” (Matthew 13:46). He is our greatest treasure.

Because of Paul’s Christian confession, he lost everything. How many of us first world spoiled brats can say the same? Not only this, but he even considered those things as rubbish. That is, they are σκύβαλον (skūbalon)—refuse, crud, garbage. In the eternal scheme of things in Christ, everything else is insignificant, for they can be thrown away and perish, but our Lord and His Word endure forever (Matthew 24:35). This does not mean to throw away all we have and live a mendicant lifestyle, nor does it mean we cannot use our things properly and orderly. What it does mean is not to become overly attached to our things and trust in them (idolatry), for since Christ is the telos (end) of all things, we will lose everything. Christ is all we will have left—the last pearl we will have, and this is a wonderful thing.

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