What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8).
The higher the hope, the greater the disappointment when hope falls. The young Marine was to be commended. Every other Sunday he drove some 200 miles to attend a WELS worship service. Sometimes he brought buddies with him. He probably came
from a good Christian home. More recently, he had come from Vietnam. It was the early ‘70s. His car broke down on a trip back to Lejeune, so he visited one of the typical used car lots that are sprinkled around military installations.
The next time he showed up, he had big smile on his face. “God was with me!” he gushed. He had found a peach of a car at a bargain price.
Two weeks later, he returned with his “new” car. This time the words, “Pure Trash” were spray-painted on the front plate. One’s heart had to go out to the hapless Marine. The car was a clunker. But he didn’t have enough money to simply buy another one—and the dealer surely wouldn’t take it back. So, he had to limp along from one repair bill to another for a while. The peach had turned into a lemon.
The Apostle Paul never did buy an automobile, but like this 20th Century Christian, he had learned the value of everything apart from his Savior God. He used the word, garbage. He probably would have given a thumb’s up at this car being labeled, pure trash. In fact, even if it was a brand-new Corvette that the young man found himself in, the apostle would still list it as, no better. This is not to say that a new car is not an improvement over the clunker. The point is, nothing in this world is everlasting, truly precious, or worth trading one ounce of salvation for. Better to lose everything on earth than to lose the inheritance in heaven.
That nice house cannot be used as collateral against the debt we owe God. Those new clothes will not serve to get us out on bail when we face divine judgment. Nor will friends be able to influence the Judge. In the court of God, the only thing that counts is the blood of Jesus. No wonder the apostle treasured “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Without knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he had nothing—though he was earthly rich. With the certain knowledge that the Son of God paid his debt to God, he was rich beyond all measure—though he had nothing else.
He knew with absolute certainty that this is true: Those who place their hope on Jesus are never disappointed.
We agree. And thus, we declare in the words of the hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, and blood support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. Amen.