READ: Philippians 3:1-11
“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.” (Philippians 3:8)
Counting on The One Who Counts
A Reflection on Knowing Jesus
What do you count?
The amount of money in your bank account? Calories burned or steps walked? The number of “likes” on your social media posts? The number of people you manage at work or kids you have? How many achievements you’ve earned or awards you’ve won? The number of credentials behind your name? Or perhaps your blessings, one by one?
What we spend time counting reveals much about our hearts. Positively, it reveals what we cherish and are grateful for. Negatively, it reveals what can easily become an idol: something that we long for more than God. If we’re not careful, the object of our counting can become our confidence- our perceived value, security, and strength. If our bank account is flourishing, we feel secure. If our “likes” abound, we feel pride. If our clothes fit right and our kids are doing well, we feel confident. Conversely, when the money runs out, the kids go astray, the pants fit too tight, and the “likes” are few, how do we feel about ourselves? What are we counting on?
Paul had an encounter with God that literally changed everything he counted. He once counted his religious pedigree and status as his confidence. He counted himself “a Hebrew of Hebrews (Phil. 3:5),” zealous for God’s law. But after Jesus revealed himself to Paul, what he counted radically changed. Now he counted his privileges as loss and knowing Jesus as his all-consuming gain. His confidence was no longer in his earthly achievements but in something that he could not earn (and could not lose)—a righteousness counted to Him through faith; a righteousness that means right relationship with God; a righteousness that he the “worst of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15) could somehow know God.
Did you catch that? In case you were wondering about your ultimate purpose in life, Paul makes it absolutely clear. There is nothing greater on this earth (or the next) than one thing: knowing God. It is the substance of life, the goal, and the great reward. In Paul’s words, knowing Jesus is of “all-surpassing worth.” A worth that’s greater than one million “likes,” physical beauty, health, a prestigious job, a dream house, or a dream spouse. A worth of such weight that it’s gravity pulls all objects of our counting into their proper orbit; it is like the brilliant sun whose light illuminates proper perspective and priority. With this clarity Paul says: “To live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil 1:21).” Period.
So if knowing God is the all-important answer, we must understand the all-important question: what does it mean to know God? After all, there are some sobering examples in scripture of people who from all outward appearances knew God, but in fact, did not. Consider Judas-one of the chosen twelve who got to look Jesus in the eye, eat with him, witness his miracles, but then betrayed him with a kiss (Mark 14:44). Think of the “many” mentioned in Mt. 7:22 who did mighty works in Jesus’s name (such as prophecy and the casting out of demons), but in the end, Jesus tells them, “I never knew you”. Lastly, consider the Pharisees. They were the Bible students and pastors of the day. Yet in all their study, public prayers, scripture memory and Sabbaths, somehow they missed the whole point. Jesus called them “hypocrites” saying they fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy: “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me” (Mark 7:6).
Friends, may this cause us to tremble…then rejoice! God does not want mere Bible reading, church attendance, or even works of deliverance. God wants our hearts: hearts that are wholly devoted to Him. Hearts that have counted the cost of discipleship and with the resolve of Paul say, “Yes Lord, I will follow! I count all else loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
“Why?” you ask. Because of who God is. God is a God who counts too.
By His wisdom and might, he counts. He counts the clouds (Job 39:1-2), the stars (Psalm 147:4; Isa. 40:26), the months and timing of every birth (Psalm 147:4); He measures the waters, the heavens, the mountains, and the dust of the earth (Is. 40:12).
By His mercy and compassion, he counts. He counts every hair on our head (Luke 12:7), all of our tossings and every tear (Ps. 56:8). He counts ninety-nine sheep and goes after the one (Luke 15:1-7).
God is also a God that does NOT count.
By His grace, He does not count our works to determine our righteousness. He does not count the number of our mistakes or hold them over our heads. He does not count our lying, coveting, lust or any other sin against us.
Instead, He counts Christ’s work as sufficient. Christ was “counted among the rebels” (Isa. 53:12) that He might die in our stead. Jesus was counted as sin that we might be counted as righteous (2 Cor. 5:21); right with Him; His.
As a bride becomes her beloved’s, so Christ wants our hearts. He wants the intimacy won through laughter, tears, honest conversation, and faithful love. He wants a faithfulness that communicates even when it’s hard; a faithfulness that looks away and guards one’s heart; a commitment that says, “You are mine, and I choose you everyday above all others: to know you, to see you, to cherish you more and more because you are worth it and you have my heart.”
Lord, because of your counting (and not counting), may we count too! May we be “counted worthy to suffer dishonor for your name’s sake” (Acts 5:41). And may we count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds (James 1:2) only that we may gain you- the one worth counting.
- What do you tend to count? (Money, pounds, “likes,” achievements, kids, etc.) Are these blessings you are grateful for, or have they become an idol? (Are these things in their proper orbit, or have they become the sun in your life?)
- How does finding our confidence in Christ’s love combat our tendencies to find our confidence in the flesh? How does this free us from the sister snares of pride and shame?
- “I live to know Him and make Him known.” How might your life look different if you fully embrace this mission statement?
This three minute video will fan into flame your love for Christ.
“That’s My King”— Dr. S.M. Lockridge
Do you know Him?