My circumcision can beat up your circumcision.
Do you know how much smack talk is in the bible?
Here are my top 3.
1. David and Goliath.
"...I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the Philistines...to the birds...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel..." [I Samuel 17:46]
Translation: "Fool. You be tripping. After I whoop you and your homies, imma give the birds a 'giant' buffet and all the world will holla at how mighty our God is."
2. Elijah on Mount Carmel.
"Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." [1 Kings 18:27]
Translation: This needs no translation. I mean, read that again. The prophet just told them their god isn't answering their prayers cause he might be sleeping, on a road trip or going number 2. This is smack talk gold.
3. Philippians 3.
"...though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more...But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." [Philippians 3:4,7]
Translation: "Hey Philippian church.... I'm a better 'Christian' than you. Way better. I also have more reason to walk with a swagger than you do when it comes to putting confidence in the flesh cause my circumcision can beat up your circumcision. One line of my resume will destroy your entire life's work...
But guess what? I stink. All that stuff I have... Its nothing compared to Christ and his righteousness."
Now lets sit on that for a sec...
[Context: some in the Philippian church were boasting-and oppressing others-because they were circumcised]
The Apostle Paul is saying although he owns all of us when it comes to self-righteousness and spiritual accomplishments, his 'works' mean nothing compared to what Jesus offers.
Let me it in perspective for you.
This would be like being happy you got a C- in a really hard class until someone walked up to you and said hey don't be happy. I got an B in this class and I'm a complete doofus. I actually have no shot at passing.
See that's what Paul is doing here.
He's saying his righteousness is better than ours will ever be but compared to God, his righteousness is worth nothing.
How freeing is that?
Seriously, take a deep breath right now.
If you're reading this, chances are your resume isn't as impressive as Paul and never will be.
Let me say that again...
You will never be as accomplished as the Apostle Paul.
And that my friends is good news.
See, by equating his righteousness as a loss, the Apostle Paul is not trying to make us feel inadequate but rather trying to free us from the vicious cycle of self-righteousness.
Everyday we wake up, we have two choices...
We can either clothe and see ourselves in our own righteousness [what we did or didn't do] or we can clothe and see ourselves in the righteousness Jesus offers through the cross [what he did].
One choice leads to burn-out, despair and tiredness while the other leads to life, hope and confidence.
With one we constantly hide from man and God because we're never good enough.
Our only hope is when we compare ourselves with the other guy who's worse than us.
With the other we courageously stand before man and God because we don't have to be good enough.
Our only hope is when we put our faith in the other guy (Jesus) who's better than us.
You're either gonna find confidence in your works of righteousness or his.
What do you choose?
Obviously circumcision (unlike Pauls culture) is not something to brag about in today's culture but I wanna know...
What are some other ways in today's culture that we as Christians put our confidence in the flesh [our own righteousness] instead of faith in Jesus' righteousness?
Anyone else find it freeing that we'll never be as accomplished as Paul and that's okay? Other thoughts?
Note: This blog post is actually a really thin slice of a sermon I preached months ago. If you're interested in diving in and learning more on this subject, please check out my sermon page and listen to the talk titled 'Philippians 3'.
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