Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard 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 one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. (Philippians 3:7-16, NRSV)
Whatever gains Paul had, they are no longer gains. They are not important. It is right before this that Paul lays out his bragging rights.
“circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6) Paul basically says he is perfect in the eyes of the Law! But none of this matters because when Christ came into the picture the Law does not matter anymore. Now Jesus did not come to get rid of the Law but to fulfill the Law. And that is a post for another day. But Paul’s reason to brag mean nothing to him. In fact, he goes even further with this.
Paul says, “I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him,…” Paul here says all things are rubbish. The word in the Greek is σκύβαλα and this is the only time it is used in all of the New Testament, and it is translated differently in all the translations. Some say rubbish, garbage, filth, and my favorite dung. But none of these get to what Paul was saying. You see the word σκύβαλα means something most of us would not say in polite company. As the image above says, “σκύβαλα happens!” And we all know what that means! Pauls says all things are shit, compared to what I have in Christ. And it was shocking. Because he was one who could brag and hold up his list, but that means nothing.
Nothing defines us but Christ, not our past, not our future. The only thing that matters is we are found in Christ!
So hold fast to Christ!