Philippians 3:4b-14 (NRSV)
4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
If anyone could earn favor with God by their devotion to God’s Law, it was Paul.
First, he came from good stock, raised in a devout Jewish household with solid roots in God’s chosen people. Then, in his adulthood, he proved his commitment by becoming a member of the Pharisees, a group committed to the keeping of the law. And not only did he observe the commandments himself, he also sought to protect his fellow Jews by driving out those who would lead others astray.
And yet, despite boasting a pedigree the envy of his peers, to him this is all worthless dung—or more politely, “rubbish”—because he has learned that it gains him nothing before God. What counts before God is not the “filthy cloth” (Isaiah 64:6) of our self-made righteousness based on God’s holy Law, but rather the Christ-made righteousness freely given to us by faith in God’s promise.
Faithful God, you have already given me everything I need to be accepted by you. Make me to trust in this all-surpassing gift, through Jesus Christ. Amen.