EVERYTHING: Intention & Affection.
Just tell him how you feel!”, I stated emphatically, completely convinced that my spontaneous dating advice would propel my dear friend through the awkward stage of “talking”. The goal of my approach was to simply encourage my friend to cut through the uncertainty and confusion of a newly formed relationship to know with confidence the intentions of this young man’s attention.
We need to know these things to move forward into meaningful and intentional relationships or otherwise, we will find ourselves making up stories or scenarios for everything that happens or doesn’t happen within our interactions.
Knowing someone's intentions allows us to fully invest our affection.
As I look at the words of Paul, found in our text in Philippians 3, I am certain of one thing: Paul knew Christ’s intentions, therefore He was willing to invest ALL his affection.
He says in verse 8, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."
These words are powerful and yet unclear in the common reading of this passage. The question we must answer is this: “What is the surpassing worth found in knowing Christ as Lord”? It is with this understanding, I believe we can begin to live with the same confidence as Paul.
To fully grasp the magnitude and measurement of Christ’s worth, I find it important to define several keywords found in verse 8:
Paul says he counts everything loss because of the “Surpassing Worth” of knowing Christ. This term, “Excellency” is defined as, Superior in rank, authority, and power; to hold over, Better than.
Paul knew Christ as Lord, and he placed His worth over EVERYTHING. This definition elevates the relationship Paul had with Christ, as the most superior in value. As I think of this, I am eager to understand how Paul came to this conclusion, for clearly, He felt as though NOTHING could be more valuable than knowing Christ as Lord. If we turn over to 2 Corinthians 3, we find Paul explaining the excellency of Christ in the context of the term “glory” which when defined in the original Greek is, “God's infinite, intrinsic worth”.
He writes, “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case, has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it…”
These few verses and the ones that follow, use the term “glory” over 11 times. What Paul was emphasizing here is the surpassing worth the gospel of Christ over the Old Testament laws. Paul’s claim was that although the law which was once valued as God’s provision for his chosen people had been surpassed in worth through the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation and sanctification (2 Cor.3:18).
Although these verses convey God’s intrinsic worth and eternal value, they will fail to mean anything to us unless we seek to “know” the intention of Christ’s Gospel.
The word “Knowing” in Philippians 3:8 is defined as a “Functional ("working") knowledge gleaned from first-hand (personal) experience; understanding that is gained in a direct relationship.
Paul’s affection and dedication to Christ was formed out of the direct experience with Christ Himself (Acts 9). He personally knew Christ’s intention and it was this personal knowledge that drove Paul’s confidence to declare his affection. What was it that Paul knew so personally?
We see the ultimate intention of Christ outlined in Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3.
“...that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
The depth of Christ’s affection for us in these verses is also seen in God’s direct intention that we may know and believe the love that He has for us (I John 4:16)(Romans 5:8).
I think of it this way… In our culture, we value relationships. Many of us have grown up longing to be loved and love another. We dream of building a life with someone and start a family. Therefore, we place a certain WORTH on these ideals yet until we have experienced the reality of falling in love or growing a family, our knowledge of these things and their true worth are limited to by mere perception and expectation.
I believe this happens in our Christian walk as well. Growing up in the Church, I have been taught the value of the gospel and lived with the knowledge of scripture and salvation for years. Yet, without direct experience or a continual working knowledge of Christ’s Lordship in my live, I will be limited in my ability to value Him above lesser things.
We cannot know Christ’s surpassing worth over Everything until we personally experience the worth of Christ as our everything.
Paul’s first declaratory statement in verse 8 hinges upon the final word “Lord”. Paul was clearly defining Christ’s role and its significance to his resolve. This term describes one’s status and absolute ownership rights, as one who has supreme authority.
Paul did not view Christ as a mere leader or teacher but as His personal Lord and Savior. Paul had experienced the mercy, grace, and goodness of God through faith in the only One who was able to surpass the laws and legalism of man to renew the heart of man.
I know these things, as you probably do, yet I desire more than anything to be captured once again by the love that surpasses knowledge, and the fullness of God that fills my soul with so much more than this world offers. So, let's keep digging into these verse to continue to learn what it means for Christ to be our EVERYTHING.
Reflection Questions (Philippians 3:8)
Where has the weight of my affection been placed?
What are the intention of those things?
What is Christ’s intention towards me?
Is Christ’s intention worth my everything?
How does the Gospel have worth to me personally?
What ways can I direct my heart to know and believe the love that God has for me?
Reading up on verse 9 for next week! Stay Tuned...