When my wife and I moved to a smaller home, we had to get rid of many things. It was hard to sort through what to keep and what to throw or give away. Some items were sentimental to us, like the toys our boys played with when they were small. Others still seemed to have value, like the books in my library. But we no longer had room for it all.
When the apostle Paul turned to Jesus Christ, he went through a kind of house cleaning as well. But in this case, he had to let go of the things he used to count on for righteousness before he believed in Jesus Christ. Paul understood that what he believed before was false righteousness. Indeed, Paul now saw these things as “garbage,” a word used to describe things that are rotten and decaying. In Paul’s day it was the word for dung. He could not have chosen an uglier image to describe the righteousness he had before his life was changed by Christ.
What did Paul get in exchange? According to verses 8–9, he gained Christ. He also found a righteousness that was not something he had earned by keeping the law but one that came through faith in Christ. If you want to be righteous in God’s eyes, you need to let go. You must give up your own claims to be good enough and recognize that God will only accept what Jesus Christ has done on your behalf. This righteousness is not earned but is given to you as a gift. We are “found in Him,” not having a righteousness of our own (v. 9).
>> It’s time to do some house cleaning! What do you need to let go of to turn to Christ? Any righteousness you can claim as your own is worse than garbage. Paul calls it dung. Let it go and choose Christ instead.
We thank You that You have not burdened us with the need to justify ourselves through our own righteousness. We throw ourselves upon Your grace, rejoicing in the righteousness we receive in Christ.