What are some things that you would classify as passions in your life? Is there anything that you are working hard to improve on? One TV show that my kids enjoy watching is “America’s Got Talent”. I can’t say the show interests me much at all but I will from time to time watch and see what “talents” are on display. I would have to agree there are some pretty amazing acts that people put on. Some are magic-type performances, some physical feats, others musical, etc. And while most of us do not practice certain things to end up on a show like that, most of us do have things that we work to try to perfect. Perhaps it’s a sport like swimming, tennis or hunting. Perhaps it might be a certain craft or skill like crossword puzzles or a musical instrument. And certainly none of those things are wrong to enjoy and desire to get better at.
However, in our reading today, Paul reminds us of what we ultimately need to be striving for. Philippians 3:7-8 says, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Paul is saying that all of things that used to be important to him no longer matter. In fact, he refers to them as “loss” and even “dung”. In preceding verses we see he is referring to his Jewish heritage and the zeal with which he strove to obey the Law. But now he is one goal, one passion-to know “win Christ.” This phrase has the idea of achieving Christ, to experience Him in a thriving relationship. That’s all that really mattered to Paul.
And so while I appreciate the time and energy it takes for people to become great at something, this passage is a stark reminder of what really matters in life. Many years ago I wrote down a quote in my Bible. I can’t remember the setting or who I could attribute this quote to but I have thought about it more than once over the years. The quote is, “my biggest fear in life is not to be a failure, but a success at something that doesn’t really matter.” This is the essence of what Paul is saying and reminding us of today.