Philippians 3:7
But whatever was an asset to me I count as loss for the sake of Christ.
Sermons
Christian JoyJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
Grounds of Christian RejoicingJ. Lyth, D. D., W. D. Pope, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
It is God's Will that We Should Rejoice in HimPhilippians 3:1-11
Joy in the LordR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 3:1-11
Joy in the LordKnox Little.Philippians 3:1-11
Joy is not Always EcstasyH. W. Beecher.Philippians 3:1-11
Prideless PrideJ. J. Goadby.Philippians 3:1-11
Repeating the Same TeachingJ. Hutchison, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
RepetitionH. Airay, D. D., R. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The Elevating Power of JoyKnox Little.Philippians 3:1-11
The Importance of Christian JoyR. Johnstone, LL. B.Philippians 3:1-11
The Joy of Christian BrethrenR. Sibbes, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The Repetition of Old Truth IsJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The Usefulness of RepetitioH. Melvill, B. D.Philippians 3:1-11
The True CircumcisionR. Finlayson Philippians 3:1-16
Pride of Birth and BreedingR.M. Edgar Philippians 3:4-7
The Apostle's Estimate of His High Privileges as a JewT. Croskery Philippians 3:4-7
The Cost and the Value of Personal ChristianityD. Thomas Philippians 3:4-8
Privileges no Ground of TrustR. Johnstone, LL. D.Philippians 3:4-10
The Faith of St. PaulT. Jones, D. D.Philippians 3:4-10
All Loss for Christ is GainV. Hutton Philippians 3:7, 8
A Business-Like AccountC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:7-9
Christ is True GainJ. Lyth, D. D.Philippians 3:7-9
Diverse Estimates of Paul's SacrificesJ. Trapp.Philippians 3:7-9
Life for ChristJ. Vaughan, M. A.Philippians 3:7-9
Loss for GainC. H. Spurgeon.Philippians 3:7-9
Self-Renunciation for Christ not to be RegrettedJ. F. B. Tinling., Sunday at Home.Philippians 3:7-9
The Christian's AccountsDean Vaughan.Philippians 3:7-9
The Gain of LossL'Estrange.Philippians 3:7-9
The Importance of Spiritual AccountsJ. Hutchison, D. D.Philippians 3:7-9
Worldly Honour Consecrated to ChristJ. F. B. Tinling.Philippians 3:7-9
No one of the early Christians was favored with richer religious endowments or with higher rank than those enjoyed by St. Paul, and no one was called to make more heavy social and ecclesiastical sacrifices in entering the Church. Yet the apostle regarded his former wealth of privileges as so much loss because it was a hindrance to his receiving true wealth in Christ, and the winning of Christ as not simply a balance of profit, but as wholly a gain; so that, though in the eyes of the world he had made an astounding sacrifice, in his own estimation he had made no sacrifice at all, but had got a pure and simple advantage from the exchange.

I. RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES MAY BECOME RELIGIOUS HINDRANCES. In their origin and primary purpose, of course, they could not be so, or they would never be privileges. But changing circumstances and abuse of them may make them of more harm than good. A pure Jewish birth, Pharisaism, and the Law were once all good. But in St. Paul's day and in relation to Christianity they became positively injurious. So now a man's position and education in religion may be converted into a hindrance to his real Christian life.

1. We may be satisfied with these privileges and so not care to go on to the higher blessings. The self-complacent Pharisee does not ask for and therefore misses the grace which the penitent publican seeks and therefore finds. The religious possessions of the former result in his poverty, the poverty of the latter in his wealth.

2. We may be prejudiced by the nature of these privileges or by our experience of them. An imperfect religion is in itself better than no religion, but it becomes worse when it prejudices us against a higher faith.

II. THE GREATEST RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES ARE OF NO USE WITHOUT CHRIST. St. Paul courts them as "but dung." To be born of Christian parents, to be educated in Christian truths, to be associated in Christian fellowship, and to be zealous in Christian work, - all these things will count as nothing for our soul's profit if we do not know, trust, love, and follow Christ. It is true that they who have not an opportunity of knowing Christ may be benefited by other religious aids. But when Christ is accessible a higher standard is set before us, and to live in the beggarly elements is worse than foolish - it is fatal.

III. WE MAY HAVE TO MAKE GREAT SACRIFICES IN ORDER TO RECEIVE CHRIST. We may have to give up worldly position, pleasant social connections, etc. We shall have to renounce all our Pharisaic righteousness. That structure which we have been building with so much care and admiring so devoutly must be razed to the ground. Let us count the cost.

IV. TO GAIN CHRIST IS SO PROFITABLE THAT THE LOSS OF ALL THINGS ELSE COUNTS AS NOTHING IN COMPARISON. It is not simply that the scale dips. It is that the weight on the other side is not felt; nay, that the value of the things given up is converted into its opposite, because they hindered the reception of Christ. In the great equation, all earthly things that stayed us from seeking Christ are lumped together and a minus sign affixed to the whole. If we have truly won Christ at the greatest cost we are conscious of no sacrifice. It is all infinite gain. - W.F.A.







What things were gain to me those I counted loss for Christ
The Christian keeps an accurate account book. He reckons up with an enlightened judgment his gains and losses. And most important is it that he should: for the question of questions is, What is gain to me and what is loss?

I. The ANSWER GIVEN BY THE WORLD. Examine the accounts of nine-tenths and you will find —

1. Health and money entered as clear gains, comfort, ease, tranquillity, prosperity, carried to the side of profit.

2. Sickness, disappointment, contraction of the means of pleasure, decay of trade, sorrow, bereavement, entered as unmixed loss.

3. And when we come to matters bearing on the interest of the soul we find that the natural heart has entered on the side of eternal gain, good character, punctuality of attendance at Christian ordinances, a conscience silent as to definite injuries against neighbours. And gain it is in a sense, for it is better to have a good conscience than a bad one, to be moral than immoral. St. Paul says no word about morality being a loss, or that he would have valued Christ more had he been a greater sinner.

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S ANSWER. For Christ's sake Paul now accounts as loss all that he had once accounted gain. He was an Israelite of direct descent. Would he have been a better man had he been born a Gentile and an idolater? He had been blameless in his observance of the ceremonial, and, as he understood it, of the moral law — does he regret that he had not habitually broken it? None of these things. The loss was that he had trusted in these things, and looked to them for salvation. He thought that God must be satisfied with so unexceptionable a genealogy, so diligent a worshipper.

2. In this point of view many of us need instruction and warning. What are we trusting in?(1) Some of us are putting off the question altogether and saying, "I will live while I can and die when I must; I will not torment myself before the time — many years hence I hope."(2) But this childish and suicidal infatuation is not in all of us. There are those who have religion. What is it? Is it more than a moral life, a Sunday worship, a trusting in God's mercy? But where is Christ in all this? What know you of the thought, "What things were gain to me," etc? What of your own are you discarding in order to rest in Christ alone? Where are your transfers from one side of your reckoning to the other because of Christ? And many of us die in the strength of a gospel which has no Christ in it; no demolition of self, either of self-confidence or seeking, and no exaltation of Christ on the ruins of self, either as Saviour or Lord. We are at best what St. Paul was before his conversion — alas, without his good conscience or scrupulous obedience.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Our Saviour's advice to those who wished to be His servants was to count the cost. He did not wish to enlist any one by keeping him in ignorance of the requirements of His service. The exercise of our judgments in the gospel is required. Do not imagine that religion consists in wild fanaticism which never considers. The apostle here gives us the word "count" three times over. He was skilled in spiritual arithmetic and very careful in his reckoning. He seems here to be in a mercantile frame of mind, adding and subtracting and balancing.

I. THE APOSTLE'S CALCULATIONS.

1. His counting at the outset of his Christian life "What things were gain," etc.(1) He dwelt on the several items, noting each with great distinctness. The list reads like a catalogue. His Jewish advantages had been as precious pearls to him once.(2) What is there per contra. Nothing on the other side but one item; but that one outweighed the many. That one was not Christianity, the Church, or the orthodox faith, but Christ.(3) Not only after putting the one under the other and making a subtraction did he find that his earthly advantages were less than Christ; he found these gains transformed into a loss. There was not a plus on that side to stand in proportion to a plus on this; they were turned into a minus of actual deficit. Not that he meant that to be a "Hebrew of the Hebrews," etc., was in itself a loss — the advantage was "much every way;" but he meant that with respect to Christ those things became a disadvantage, because their tendency had been to keep him from trusting Christ. It is a grand thing to have led a virtuous life; but this blessing may, by our own folly, become a curse, if we place it in opposition to the righteousness of Christ, and dream that we have no need of a Saviour.

2. His estimate for the time then present. We are always anxious to hear what a man has to say about a thing after he has tried it. After twenty years of experience Paul had an opportunity of revising his balance sheet; and makes the strong affirmation — "Yea, doubtless I count," etc. He has made the original summary even more comprehensive, but he stands to the same estimate and uses not barely the word "Christ," but the fuller expression, "the excellency of the knowledge," etc. Now he has come to know the Christ in whom before he had trusted. Christ is better loved as he is better known.(1) The words show the points upon which he had fullest knowledge. He knew the Lord as —

(a)Christ, the Messiah anointed and sent of the Father.

(b)Jesus, the anointed and actual Saviour.

(c)My Lord. His was an appropriating knowledge.(2) The text implies that he knew Christ by faith. He believed, and hence he knew.(3) He knew Him by experience, "and the power of His resurrection." This is excellent knowledge when the power of a fact is realized within and shown in the life.(4) More than that Paul aimed to know more by a growing likeness to Him.(5) There is no knowledge in this world comparable to this, for it concerns the highest conceivable object, and no man hath it but by the Holy Ghost.(6) If you would see its excellency look at its effects — it makes us humble, delivers us from the power of sin, elevates the motives, sweetens the feelings, gives nobility to the life, and will continue to progress when every other knowledge is laid aside.

3. His third counting may be regarded as his life estimate. "For whom I have," etc. Here his estimate sets out with actual test and practical proof. He is a prisoner, with nothing in the world; he has lost caste, has no longer his own righteousness: Christ is his all and nothing else. Does he regret the loss of all things? No, he counts it an actual deliverance to have lost them.(1) In his first and second countings these things were "loss," now they are "dung."(2) In his second estimate he spoke of "knowing" Christ, but now he speaks of "winning" Him, or rather "gaining," for he keeps to the mercantile figure all through.(3) Further, his aim is to be "found in Him," as a bird in the air, a fish in the sea, a member in the body — as a fugitive shelters himself in his hiding place; so in Christ as never to come out of Him, so that whenever any one looks for him he may find him in Jesus.(4) Notice how Paul keeps to what he began with, viz., his unrobing himself of his boastings in the flesh, and his arraying himself with Christ — "not having mine own righteousness," etc.

II. OUR OWN CALCULATIONS.

1. Do we join in Paul's earlier estimate. You will never be saved till you lose all your legal hopes.

2. After many years of profession do you still continue in the same mind and make the same estimate? Not if you have settled down on something other than Christ.

3. You cannot join Paul in the last calculation — "I have suffered the loss of all things," but do you think you could have done so if required for Christ's sake? Your fore. fathers did so.

4. Seeing God has left you your worldly comforts have you used all things for His sake.

5. If Christ be to you so that all things are dung and dross in comparison, do you not want Him for your children, your friends, etc. What a man values for himself he values for others.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Earthly good —

I.BRINGS NO PEACE, Christ does.

II.CAN GIVE NO SATISFACTION, Christ can.

III.LOSES ITS POWER TO GRATIFY, Christ never.

IV.IS ATTENDED WITH CARE AND TROUBLE. Christ is full of consolation.

V.AT BEST OF THE EARTH EARTHLY. Christ opens heaven.

VI.HAS ITS LIMIT. In Christ all fulness dwells.

VII.MUST HAVE ITS PERIOD. Christ lives forever.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The life which we owe to Christ and hold in Christ we are bound by the strongest claims to use for Christ. Life is a thing to be used. And if you admit that it was once forfeited, but that Christ has bought it back for you by His death, and that you keep it only by your connection with Him, then you hold it on false pretences if you use it in any other way but for Him. There are two ways in which "life for Christ" may be understood.(1) In order to obtain Him — "that I may win Christ," i.e., finally enjoy Him; or(2) as the Master puts it, "for My sake." We take it in the latter sense. A man may live a very good life — he may have a natural tendency towards it, or a conscientious feeling may lead him to it; but all the while he may fall short of this — that it is not for Christ. The motive is diluted by worldly motives and is very feeble, while God measures everything by the loving standard of the one motive — was it for Christ? This life for Christ —

I. MUST NOT BE AN UNCERTAIN THING. Taken up and laid down at pleasure, by fits and starts, remembered and forgotten, but must be the result of deep conviction. To this end —

1. Consecrate your life to Christ in the most express and solemn way you can, on your knees. Lay the sacrifice upon the altar. Invest it with the sacredness of an irrevocable pledge.

2. Renew that act of self-dedication at not very long intervals.

3. Write it on everything you have and are, body, soul, time, talents, business, family, etc.

II. MUST ENTER INTO YOUR TRIALS. When you are in bodily or mental distress, and when you are going through the discipline of bitter daily friction, think thus — "I will sanctify and ennoble this suffering by bearing it for Christ." He bore much more for me, and these are the "marks of the Lord Jesus" now laid upon me.

III. MUST EATER INTO YOUR HAPPINESS. Christ is happy in your happiness and for His sake you must be happy: and your happiness must not fail to make others happy.

IV. MUST BE A LIFE OF MINISTRY.

1. In defence of Christ.

2. In the extension of His cause.

3. In having some positive work to do for Him.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Turning to the mercantile figure we are reminded of the paramount importance of having the record books of our inner life rightly kept. The great German satirist, Heinrich Heine, has scornfully depicted the mere worldling thus: "Business men have the same religion throughout the whole world. They find in their office their church, in their desk their prayer cushion, in their ledger their Bible. The warehouse is their inner sanctuary; the exchange bell is their summons to prayer; their God is their gold; their faith is their credit." The apostle was never so low in the scale as these words represent justly the mere worldling to be. He was, even as Saul the persecutor, of a very different and a far higher type. None the less these scathing words describe too closely the character and conduct of countless thousands, who all the time are not ashamed and not afraid to bear the name of Christian. But in contrast to such a picture we have the new man, renewed in heart and life; he, too, has his all-engrossing concerns. He, too, has his books, recording the transactions which take place in his inmost soul. He keeps them rightly. No false entries are seen there. The things of the world, whatever their value in themselves may be, are, as related to the soul's interests, entered as loss. The things of the kingdom alone appear as gain. True wealth — that which alone can claim the name of sub stance — is summed up in righteousness: life in Christ Jesus — life which in Him is everlasting.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

He who loses anything and gets wisdom by it is a gainer by the toss.

(L'Estrange.)

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.)

The poet George Herbert was so highly connected, and in such favour at court, that at one time a secretaryship of state seemed to him not unattainable. But he gave up all such prospects for the work of a humble clergy man, and in looking back upon the time he made his choice, he could say, "I think myself more happy than if I had attained what then I had so ambitiously thirsted for. And I can now behold the court with an impartial eye, and see plainly that it is made up of frauds and bitters, and flattery, and many other such empty imaginary and painted pleasures — pleasures which are so empty as not to satisfy when they are enjoyed. But in God and His service is a fulness of all joy and pleasure and no satiety."

(J. F. B. Tinling.)Raymond Lully, or Lullius, to whom the Arabic professorship at Oxford owes its origin, was the first Christian missionary to the Moslems. When shipwrecked near Pisa, after many years of missionary labour, though upwards of seventy, his ardour was unabated. "Once," he wrote, "I was fairly rich; once I had a wife and children; once I tasted freely of the pleasures of this life. But all these things I gladly resigned that I might spread abroad a knowledge of the truth. I studied Arabic, and several times went forth to preach the gospel to the Saracens. I have been in prison, I have been scourged, for years I have striven to persuade the princes of Christendom to befriend the common cause of converting the Mohammedans. Now, though old and poor, I do not despair; I am ready, if it be God's will, to persevere unto death." And he did so, being stoned to death at Bergia, in Africa, in 1314, after gathering a little flock of converts.

(Sunday at Home.)

T.A. Ragland, an eminent mathematician, and a devoted Christian, gained the silver cup at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, four years in succession. One of these was dedicated to God for the communion service of a small native Church, mainly gathered by him in Southern India, and all were set apart for the same purpose in connection with his itinerating missionary service.

(J. F. B. Tinling.)

Porphyry, the philosopher, said that it was a pity that such a man as Paul was thrown away upon our religion. And the monarch of Morocco told the English ambassador in King John's time that he had lately read Paul's Epistles, which he liked so well that were he now to choose his religion, he would before any other embrace Christianity. "But every one ought," said he, "to die in his own religion"; and the leaving of the faith in which he was born was the only thing he disliked in that apostle.

(J. Trapp.)

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