But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
During his life, he was one of the most feared leaders of his time. With such power he was able to amass great wealth. His name and his accomplishments would be etched into the tablets of history for many to discover for centuries to come, but that type of immortality was not his focus. He believed in a magical place beyond this life where he would spend eternity with the gods he worshiped. In preparation for that life, much of his wealth and many of his belongings were entombed by his side only to be unearthed a thousand years later. Archaeologists found gold and statues and wine. They also found clothing and items with which this great ruler would have entertained himself. Wherever he ended up after this life, one thing was clear: all that he had gained and hoped to take with him after this life had stayed behind.
There is a lot of work for us to do while we are here. In doing that work for God, our goal is always to work in excellence. Sure, we will have opportunities to amass and share wealth, and we may have times when we have abundantly more than we need. For some of us, our accomplishments will bring us public attention and possibly fame. God can work all of these things in our lives, but we must make sure that we have the right perspective. The worldly gains we might obtain are only for this world. They are temporary and will pass away one day. That which we hope to gain through our faith in Jesus Christ is of another breed. That is the eternal, and it is why everything else we could possibly gain on earth is counted as worthless in comparison.
Paul had a coveted position among a certain group before coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Once that transformation took place, he had to say goodbye to the worldly gains that he had held dear and that many others would have wanted for themselves. Whether position or reputation or money, he realized that those things meant nothing when compared to the eternal promise he gained through his Savior. That which cannot save us will one day disappear and be forgotten. No matter what we have in this world, it means nothing if we do not have that which will actually last. Father, help us keep our eyes on your Son and focus on appreciating what we gain in him instead of focusing on the things that will one day come to nothing.