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 refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.
Way back in the Old Testament, some bright aide-de-camp suggests to David that he offer a sacrifice to God that consists of a meaningless token gesture. David refuses him sharply, declaring, “I will not offer a sacrifice that costs me nothing.” Those words make a great deal of difference in understanding what Paul is up to in today’s verse. Many people imagine that Paul has mere contempt for the created world or nature or the human condition. He counts them as “refuse” after all (a polite translation of a term that actually means “dung” in Greek). So Paul sometimes gets arraigned as some sort of gloomy inhuman who hates life. But this is to read him with a blind eye. The reason Paul “counts everything as loss” is because he has really good things to lose and the sacrifice of them costs him a great deal. He was a very gifted man who loved the world, his heritage, and his culture deeply. But he loved Christ even more and so was willing to suffer the name of traitor, and the quelling of his pride about his own considerable gifts, in order to have what is best. Today, offer a sacrifice that costs you something.