A devotional thought from Mike Cosper from “Jesus’ View of the Law”
Before Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he had a stellar reputation amongst the Jews. He had devoted his life to his religion. He was a Bible scholar and a disciplined, faithful, rigorous person. It’s safe to say that as much as one could zealously conform to the external requirements of the law, Paul did. And in Philippians 3:7-9, he called his achievements “filth.” Frankly, the translators who deal with this passage always struggle a bit with this word. It’s coarser than “filth.” We might say “dung,” “manure,” or any other number of colorful metaphors.
Paul’s point is this: our efforts at righteousness don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world (or the next) compared to the extraordinary gift of righteousness that comes through faith in Christ. If we trust Jesus, we’re given a status much higher than anything we could earn for ourselves that in comparison we’d call our own efforts a loss.
Our challenge is to never confuse the facts here. May we never confuse the gift of righteousness with the righteousness of our obedience to the law. In other words, may we always see that what we’re given in Jesus is the grounds and basis of our relationship with God, and what we experience or accomplish in obedience to the law—as good as it may be—is nothing in comparison.
Pause & Reflect:
• What are some of the ways you’re tempted to feel or act self-righteously? What are the deeds you’re tempted to put on display? What might you now count as “rubbish” since you’ve gained Jesus?
• What makes the gift of Jesus’ righteousness greater than your own efforts? How significant is the difference? How should we respond to that gift in life and worship?