For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh— although I once also had confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.
Philippians 3:3-6 (HCSB)
I like to skim part of these verses above. In the midst of reading Philippians, I looking at Paul’s brag list of his lineage, education and training…and I get a little jealous. If you are like me you start sizing him up against yourself and find you are left wanting.
Here’s the rub though…Paul isn’t writing this for bragging rights. Quite the contrary. Here he is, in jail nonetheless, telling us that if we boast in confidence, he’s got us beat. But if we focus in on that we miss it, tightly woven in just before as he’s talking about his life before Christ, that we should not be putting confidence in the flesh.
Our own strength. Our own might. Our own individual selves.
None of it. Not a single bit of it should we find or place confidence in within ourselves. The foundation that is built isn’t by our means, or our ways, or in our timing or in our strength. What’s more, our future does not lie in embracing our past.
We aren’t who we were when we are in Christ. We are new. We are being re-newed each day with mercies given by Him. We cannot boast in that. I cannot be confident that I will get my to-do list done each day, but I can be confident that my God is and will be right beside throughout the day.
I can boast that nothing is ever done in my own strength, as much as I try to wrestle it from Him. I know that the ministry I work in, the paycheck I receive and the people I encounter each day are all a part of His plan-not something I have concocted.
If I choose to live in the confidence of my own self, I see a person who tries and fails way too often, who pursues the wrong things, gets distracted by the inherently good things, and someone who desires after more. But His more for me is in no comparison because as Paul continues on in Philippians any of the stuff that I gain in my own self, through my own means, is a loss when it comes to Christ.
When it comes to comparing the two, there isn’t even a consideration because everything I thought was worth striving for when I was far from Him is dingy, ugly and worthless when I see life lived in and through Him. So rather than boasting in myself, who sometimes succeeded in selfish pursuits but found a life fully lived out in Christ was far more adventurous and plentiful. Because He shifts my past to where I am not grasping it for my future. Instead He gives me a new hope, a boasting in His truth, and a foundation that is firm in love and mercy.
That. Him…He is exactly where my confidence lies. I don’t want a righteousness of my own making as it will never come to fruition, lead to only further anguish and self-seeking while giving a false hope that I am able to do it. So I boast in Him. That it not be of me, but of Him.