I do love rubbish. Seriously. The really rotten, pungent stuff. Sometimes I carry some with me all day long and just take a big whiff every now and again. Other times I put some right beside my bed so I can wake up and just enjoy that faintly sweet smell of rotting garbage.
You probably think it’s weird that I keep rubbish close by myself much of the time so I can inhale the rotting fumes. I mean, we’re not talking about a bouquet of flowers here. And I admit, you’re right. It IS weird. In fact, it’s downright stupid…but I do it anyway.
And so do you (probably).
“…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…” (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
Paul here is speaking about all the reasons he COULD give for why he is righteous in and of himself. He goes so far in verse 6 as to say that he is BLAMELESS according to the law. The audacity! He claims to have kept the law so precisely that God could bring no charge against him is he were judged according to the law handed down.
And then he says something so convicting that I have trouble thinking about it. He says that all he had, every reason he could have given for why he was righteous in nothing but RUBBISH. His entire life’s pursuit of obedience was absolutely meaningless, because he had been doing these things APART from faith in Christ. He emphatically states that there is not a single thing that he ever did which commended him into God’s favor.
- All of his keeping of the commandments – rubbish.
- All the sacrifice and fasting – rubbish.
- All the time spent praying and studying – rubbish.
- His status as a teacher of the Scriptures – rubbish.
- Everything he ever did which could have been considered righteous – rubbish!
How very hopelessly helpless we are! Even if our obedience entitles us to say that we are BLAMELESS, we still have NOTHING except rubbish! Luke relates to us the fact that Jesus said this exact thing:
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:10 ESV)
UNWORTHY! Even if you do every single thing which is required of you, you are STILL. UN. WORTHY.
How often do we walk around all day reveling in our unworthy rubbish? How often do we lie down and wake up thinking about how righteous we are, taking enraptured whiffs of rotting and unworthy WORKS that we think are righteous?
- “I’m not like the world. I don’t steal or lie. I’m righteous.”
- “Boy those homosexuals and ‘sinners’ really have it coming! I’m glad I’m more righteous than that.”
- “I haven’t missed a tithe in months! I bet even other church people can’t say that.”
- “I was really on the ball about praying and reading the Bible this week…probably more than my other friends.”
- “I really deserve only good things from God, since I live so obediently.”
- “It is unfair for God to allow me to struggle. I’ve done everything He’s asked of me, haven’t I? I’m worthy!”
We are hopeless. UNLESS we “…gain Christ and [are] found in him, not having a righteousness of [our] own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…”
My friends, the only thing that can commend you to God is Christ and HIS righteousness. You and I, even if we PERFECTLY obey everything that is commanded of us (which, by the way, is impossible), can never be anything more than unworthy servants. And yet if we are found “IN CHRIST”, we have HIS righteousness!
“God made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Glorious! Praise God the Father and His unfathomable mercy! We, who are eternally unworthy and full of rubbish, are NOT hopeless if we have Christ. When we put our faith and trust IN HIM instead of in our own righteousness (read rubbish), HIS sinless perfection is counted to us! Glory!
What sort of rubbish are you carrying around with you that is not Christ? What are you trusting in that is not HIS perfection? What is distracting your faith from the only worthy object of faith?
For the sake of your soul and the glory of God, throw it away! Forget it! Despise it! Consider it a complete loss so that you might gain Christ and be found in Him, and so be counted righteous because of your faith in Him.
Forget the rubbish. Trust Christ.
Be blessed, friend.