C. T. Studd was born to wealth and prestige on December 2, 1860. He distinguished himself as an athlete while a student at Eton. But when Studd was 24 years old, his brother became gravely ill. C. T. began to question the course of his life and decided that it came up wanting. “What is all the fame and flattery worth...when a man comes to face eternity?” he wondered. Studd determined to let it all go and devote himself to Christ.
Paul made a similar choice. His achievements were not on the cricket field, as C. T. Studd’s were. Paul’s accomplishments were religious. He gives us his resume in verses 4–6, noting that if anyone had a reason to be confident in his own spiritual efforts, it was him. But an encounter with Jesus Christ changed everything. Paul suddenly realized that what he had been trusting in was not true righteousness but self-righteousness. Like Studd, he chose to let it go. Compared to the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, Paul felt his own attempts were mere “garbage” (v. 8). In verse 9, the apostle explains the difference between the two approaches. One was a “righteousness of my own that comes from the law,” and the other was “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Paul wanted the Philippians to know his story because they were tempted by preachers who distorted the gospel. These teachers claimed it was necessary to be circumcised and obey the law of Moses to be saved. The apostle disagrees with them (v. 2), calling them dogs, evildoers, and mutilators of the flesh (an allusion to the practice of circumcision). His strong language is a reminder that there is no common ground between these two approaches.
>> Do you expect God to accept you because of your own efforts and religious practices? Let it all go. Turn to Christ and receive His righteousness as a gift through faith.
We love because [You] first loved us (1 John 4:19). We strive for righteousness for the same reason. And because You love us, we run the race with perseverance (Heb. 12:1), knowing You have already won on our behalf!