Proverbs 16 & Philippians 3

Proverbs 16

    The plans of the heart belong to man,
        but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
    All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
        but the LORD weighs the spirit.
    Commit your work to the LORD,
        and your plans will be established.
    The LORD has made everything for its purpose,
        even the wicked for the day of trouble.
    Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD;
        be assured, he will not go unpunished.
    By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
        and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.
    When a man's ways please the LORD,
        he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
    Better is a little with righteousness
        than great revenues with injustice.
    The heart of man plans his way,
        but the LORD establishes his steps.
    An oracle is on the lips of a king;
        his mouth does not sin in judgment.
    A just balance and scales are the LORD's;
        all the weights in the bag are his work.
    It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
        for the throne is established by righteousness.
    Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
        and he loves him who speaks what is right.
    A king's wrath is a messenger of death,
        and a wise man will appease it.
    In the light of a king's face there is life,
        and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
    How much better to get wisdom than gold!
        To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
    The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
        whoever guards his way preserves his life.
    Pride goes before destruction,
        and a haughty spirit before a fall.
    It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
        than to divide the spoil with the proud.
    Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
        and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
    The wise of heart is called discerning,
        and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
    Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
        but the instruction of fools is folly.
    The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
        and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
    Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
        sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
    There is a way that seems right to a man,
        but its end is the way to death.
    A worker's appetite works for him;
        his mouth urges him on.
    A worthless man plots evil,
        and his speech is like a scorching fire.
    A dishonest man spreads strife,
        and a whisperer separates close friends.
    A man of violence entices his neighbor
        and leads him in a way that is not good.
    Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
        he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
    Gray hair is a crown of glory;
        it is gained in a righteous life.
    Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
        and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
    The lot is cast into the lap,
        but its every decision is from the LORD.

(Proverbs 16 ESV)

Philippians 3

    Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

    Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 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—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

    Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But 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 upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

    Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

(Philippians 3 ESV)

Philippians 3: In calling men to willingly suffer loss for the sake of Christ, the apostle Paul is not persuading us to do anything that he had not already done himself. The apostle Paul counted his pedigree, privileges and prestige within the community as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ. However, he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to even say that he counts these things as utter rubbish (‘manure’) in comparison to gaining Christ. We might wonder why the apostle felt the need to use such harsh and severe language in making his point, but then again, we might need to wonder why we have such difficulties resonating with this level of Christ-centered commitment and passion.

What are the reasons that we have such a hard time comprehending the type of passion that would drive a man to say he’d give up everything for the sake of gaining Christ? How much difficulty do we find in accepting the fact that real faith in Christ is in fact a radical faith in Christ?

True Christianity is a faith that counts everything you have and everything you are as dispensable waste compared to knowing our Lord Jesus Christ and experiencing the power of His resurrection.

The reason the apostle can use such harsh language in speaking of the worthlessness of his pedigree, privileges and prestige is because he has come to realize that all of these things in life that we think are so important ultimately have nothing to offer the heart and soul of man. In fact, not only do they have nothing to offer the soul of man, but they also end up serving as some of the greatest hindrances to the only thing with the power to penetrate men at the very core of their being. Therefore, the true Christian man is a man willing to get rid of anything that gets in the way of his gaining more of Christ. 

In Christ, we are given a new pedigree as a new creation transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we are given new privileges as adopted children of God and heirs to all that He has promised. And in Christ, we are given a prestige far greater than anything that this world has to offer as servants of the King of kings and citizens of the eternal Kingdom. The only reasonable explanation for the way in which we cling to the dispensable things of this world is the fact that for some reason or another we have failed to truly know Christ. 

In order to secure our salvation and redeem us from the reign of sin, our Lord chose not to count His status as God as something to cling on to but emptied Himself, by taking on the form of a servant and humbling Himself to the point of death on a cross. In our response to this redemption, may we too chose not to count our own status in this world as something worth clinging on to but freely count it all as loss for the sake of gaining and glorifying our Lord who has given up so much and infinitely more for us.