John Piper, in a message, “Called to Suffer and Rejoice -that We Might Gain Christ”
Why did God ordain and Paul accept the losses that it meant for him to be a Christian?
Paul gives the answer again and again in these verses so that we cannot miss the point. He is not passive in this suffering loss. He is purposive. And his purpose is to gain Christ.
- Verse 7: “I counted them loss for the sake of Christ.”
- Verse 8a: “I count all things to be loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
- Verse 8b: “For him I have suffered the loss of all things.”
- Verse 8c: “And I count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ . . . “
- Verse 9: ” . . . and that I may be found in him [so as to have God’s righteousness, not my own] . . . “
- Verse 10a: (still giving his aim in accepting the loss of all things) ” . . . that I may know him”
- Verses 10b–11: (followed by four specifics of what it means to know Christ)
- ” . . . [to know] the power of his resurrection”; and
- “the fellowship of his sufferings”;
- “being conformed to his death”;
- “in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
In other words, what sustains Paul in suffering the loss of all things is the confidence that in his losing precious things in the world he is gaining something more precious—Christ.
And two times that gaining is called a knowing—verse 8a: ” . . . in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Verse 10: “That I might know him.” This is the intimacy factor in suffering. Do we want to know him? Do we want to be more personal with him and deep with him and real with him and intimate with him—so much so that we count everything as loss to gain this greatest of all treasures?
If we do, we will be ready to suffer. If we don’t, it will take us by surprise and we will rebel. May the Lord open our eyes to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ!