But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.…
When the captain leaves the harbour he has a cargo on board of which he takes great care, but when a tremendous wind is blowing and the ship labours, being too heavily laden, and there is great fear that she will not outride the storm, see how eagerly the sailors lighten the ship. They bring up from the hold with all diligence the very things which before they prized, and they seem rejoiced to heave them into the sea. Never men more eager to get than these are to throw away. There go the casks of flour, the bars of iron, the manufactured goods: overboard go valuable bales of merchandise; nothing seems to be worth keeping. How is this? Are not these things good? Yes, but nor good to a sinking ship. Anything must go to save life, anything to outride the storm. And so the apostle says that in order to win Christ and to be found in Him he flung the whole cargo of his beloved confidences over, and was as glad to get rid of them as if they were only dung. This he did to win Christ, and that fact suggests another picture: an English war ship of the olden times is cruising the ocean, and she spies a Spanish galleon in the distance laden with gold from the Indies. Captain and men are determined to overtake and capture her, for they have a relish for prize money; but their vessel sails heavily. What then? If she will not move because of her load they fling into the sea everything they can lay their hands on, knowing that if they can capture the Spanish vessel the booty will make amends for all they lose and vastly more. Do you wonder at their eagerness to lose the little to gain the great? Sailor, why cast overboard those useful things? "Oh," says he, "they are nothing compared with that prize over yonder. If we can but get side by side and board her we will soon make up for all that we now throw into the sea." And so it is with the man who is in earnest to win Christ and to be found in Him. Overboard go circumcision and Phariseeism, and the blamelessness touching the law, and all that, for he knows that he will find a better righteousness in Christ than any which he foregoes, yea, find everything in Christ which he now, for his Lord's sake, counts but as the slag of the furnace.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.