Maybe there’s a little bit of a my-dad-can-beat-up-your-dad spirit in many of us, but most of us also recognize it’s not much fun being around someone who’s always one up. Is there a braggart or two in your world?
It might actually intimidate kids on the playground, but it’s wise not to try it in God’s house. Read Paul’s boasting below, but don’t miss his point:
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. 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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:3-9).
It sounds like he’s bragging at first, doesn’t it? You guys want to brag about everything you’ve done? Well, try to top this resume . . .
But it’s actually the opposite. He’s saying that all those credentials, accomplishments, fleshly things . . . they’re nothing more than a pile of garbage, refuse, dung. He doesn’t want us to miss his point:
“Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” . . . “I count everything as loss” . . . “I have suffered the loss of all things”
When the Lord caught Paul’s attention on the road to Damascus, he turned his back on all of his legalistic deed-counting and works righteousness. He realized that standing upright before God wasn’t based on his religious right-doing. It wasn’t based on how good he was or how many religious acts he could perform.
That’s a point we need to get. To use Paul’s words, we don’t have a righteousness “of our own” . . . the righteousness we have “comes through faith in Christ.”
It’s his righteousness, not ours. I think sometimes we forget that. We’re tempted to do a little chest-thumping before God, hoping he notices all the good things we do, all the sacrifices we make, all the prayers and songs and sermons we offer him.
And he notices them, of course, but he wants us to know that they don’t earn us favor or make us righteous or save us.
Favor with God is unearned and undeserved, and it comes through faith in Christ and the faith of Christ.
There’s no place for religious boasting unless we’re bragging about all that the Lord’s done for us . . . —Chuck