In today’s Bible reading in Philippians 3, Paul rattles off his Curriculum Vitae (resume):
“circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:5–6, CSB)
Paul says, “You may think you’re religious, you can’t
“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7–8, CSB)
In comparison with all of the awards, all the trophies, and all the diplomas Paul had earned and treasured in his “BC Days” as a very devout Jew, he says all of those admirable things weren’t worth a crap.
Yes, I just said that. I said it because Paul said it. And he meant it.
Elsewhere, Paul emphasized his Christ-centric message:
“When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s
power,so that your faith might not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:1–5, CSB)
Paul could have come to the Corinthians with eloquent messages. He could have impressed them with all of his learning. Instead, he focused on Jesus. As a result, God showed up in demonstrable power from the Holy Spirit.
We used to joke about how much we had learned in the cemetery, I mean the seminary. But as they say, there is an element of truth in humor. I can tell you from personal experience, reading (and amassing) a lot of theology books, learning Biblical languages, sitting in classrooms under world-class theologians, and writing a lot of papers doesn’t necessarily result in a closer walk with Jesus. In fact, sometimes these things can get in the way of a closer walk with Jesus.
Being a long-time believer and being a long-time church-goer doesn’t necessarily result in a closer walk with Jesus. In fact, sometimes these things get in the way of a closer walk with Jesus.
The only thing that will result in a closer walk with Jesus is spending time with Jesus. Spending time in prayer. Spending time reading His Word. Spending time studying His Word. Spending time memorizing His Word. Why?
Because we’re talking about a relationship. And the only way to grow closer in a relationship is to spend time together.
This devotional was originally published June 18, 2019.