Jesus Shipwrecked Paul’s Life.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Shipwrecked? That’s a little harsh!”
Not when we look at the original language to which Paul wrote his Philippian letter. Let’s begin with some context:
Paul stated that he was, “…a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Phil. 3:5b-6)
As far as leadership prestige goes, Paul had it all. Even more than that, in his day, religious leadership meant societal status. His position would have linked into the social scene; known, honoured and revered by everyone.
Enter The Shipwreck
Now look at verses 7 and 8:
“7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 7-8a)
The intention of Paul’s words can only be determined when we understand the word, “loss” as heard by the Philippian audience. Biblical scholar, A. T. Robertson gives us some clarity:
“Old word for damage, loss. In N.T. only in Phil. and Acts 27:10 (…great loss to ship and cargo…), Acts 27:21 (…spared yourselves this damage and loss…). Debit side of the ledger, not credit.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament)
You Own A Ship
Try to imagine you’re a first century business owner. You have to move cargo from one port to another. You own a ship, but you need to hire a captain and crew. These are expenses that you expect to incur.
You also understand that some unforeseen costs may be incurred. A ripped sail perhaps? Some of the cargo might be damaged on route? These are expected and planned for.
Shipwreck is not in the business plan. You would never send your ship and cargo out to sea if you knew that it would all be lost. But there’s always a slim possibility.
When shipwreck comes, “…you must count everything as loss…”
Our Cargo Is Rubbish
Once we understand this component of Philippians 3, the second component of Paul’s words really come to life.
“For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him,” (Phil. 3:8b-9a)
Our lives are a ship and cargo. When we meet Jesus Christ, everything is turned upside down; shipwrecked. But as the debris settles we realise everything we had before was rubbish.
Before we meet Jesus, our lives are full of so many things that we think hold value, that make us important. Jesus causes us to recognize the greater life beyond this world.
Even when we suffer the loss of all things, because of Jesus, we “…count them as rubbish…” in comparison to His grace and mercy, and eternal promise.
Nothing could be better than being shipwrecked by Jesus!
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When you met Jesus, what did you lose?