Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:…
Having touched on the subject of self-confidence, Paul can quote his own experience on the point. For many years he thought he might plume himself even more than other men on his pedigree and his personal rower. He had lived in the haze of self-satisfaction, and could quote a genealogy and personal record second to none. It becomes amusing in a Pharisee of the first century, and yet we have people who are just as ridiculous in their pride of birth and of breeding in the nineteenth century. It is surely worth a moment's analysis.
I. No MATTER HOW WELL BORN OR BRED A MAN MAY BE, IT CONSTITUTES NOT HIS MERIT, BUT HIS OBLIGATION. Paul was a thorough-bred Jew, and fancied this fact should save him. But whatever good we receive through inheritance is not our merit; it simply increases our obligation. It is a confusion of thought, therefore, to suppose that the Supreme will save any man because of the accident of his birth or his breeding. We shall be called to account for these advantages, and they should minister to humility and fear rather than to pride.
II. EXERTIONS TO SECURE A REPUTATION, INSTEAD OF TO GLORIFY GOD, INCREASE OUR SELFISHNESS INSTEAD OF ESTABLISHING ANY CLAIM TO SALVATION. Paul's zeal was undoubted in persecuting the Christians. He was the first persecutor of his time; so that, in addition to his pride of birth and breeding, he could plume himself upon a religious reputation without a parallel among his people. He thought that no one had such a claim upon the tribal God, the God of the Jews, as he. If self-righteousness could be established by mortal man, Paul believed he had accomplished it. He forgot that the establishment of reputations is a selfish motive at the best, and can have nothing but condemnation from a holy God. In analyzing our motives, consequently, we must be most careful. Unless we are on our guard, we shall find ourselves living the selfish life, manufacturing reputations rather than strictly regarding usefulness and God's glory.
III. BOTH OUR PEDIGREE AND OUR ZEAL ARE LOSSES TO US IF THEY DETAIN US FROM CHRIST. Paul had spent long years in thinking how well-bred and reputable a Jew he was. Occupied with self, he had never turned his eyes to the radiant Christ, who alone is worthy of such constant contemplation. His fancied merits had thus kept him for years from the profitable study of the person and character of Christ. As soon as, on the way to Damascus, he became acquainted with Christ, the loss of the self-righteous years pressed itself painfully upon him. He wondered that he had so long neglected such a Savior. He saw in him a subject worthy of eternal study, and he regretted that he had been so tardy in entering upon it. We are surely taught here that anything which shuts out Christ from us, it matters not what it may be, is a distinct loss to us. He is the only object worth absorbing our attention. When other objects - self in any of its forms - eclipse him, we are losers and not gainers by the distraction. Things good in themselves even, such as birth and breeding and activity, prove serious losses to us if they withdraw our souls from the contemplation of the Savior. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: