"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:8-11)Paul is not talking about voluntary poverty here but rather is speaking of those things that keep us from Christ and His will in our lives.For Paul, it was the trappings of false religion; a religion that rewarded self-effort and fostered self-righteousness. For others, it might be material possessions. Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking eternal life. Jesus said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mark 10:21) However, this young man was very rich and was saddened at these words and "went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property." (Mark 10:22) Another impediment to Christ and His Gospel is our love for this life and this world. In telling the parable of the sower and the seeds, Jesus described the seed that fell among the thorns. "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22) Furthermore, John warns of us loving the world and its consequences in our lives. "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15) All these things can hinder us from coming to Christ and from living in His will and purpose for our lives.
Paul said that he had "suffered the loss of all things" for the sake of Christ. Paul had not merely given up all things, but he suffered the loss, meaning he felt the loss within himself. There is a cost to count when we consider a life in the Kingdom of God. We cannot accept new life in Christ and expect to continue living our old life in this world. A life in Christ demands all of us, it requires our surrender of all we are and all we have, and it requires our death to this life in order to gain new life in Christ. So what would possess a person to surrender all? By counting the cost and comparing what we have to lose versus what we have to gain. So what did Paul hope to gain?
First was the knowledge of God. This is not merely knowing about God, but knowing God. When we come to know God then all things begin to make sense. David was conflicted by what he saw around him; good people suffering and bad people prospering, but he came to his senses when he saw and understood God. "When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end." (Psalms 73:16-17) It was only in knowing God that David was able to make sense of all he was going through.
Secondly, he hoped to gain Christ. If we have Christ, then we have everything: God, the Kingdom, everlasting life, etc. If we have Christ then nothing is impossible for us and no trial, temptation, or difficulty in life is beyond His ability to cause us to overcome. Paul boldly stated, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
Thirdly, that he would find a righteousness that was not his own; a righteousness that did not depend upon his own works, will, and strength to produce. In Christ, we find a righteousness that is by faith and not by law or works. We are righteous not because we work, but because we believe. Remember what was said about Abraham who was the father of faith, "Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)
Fourthly, that he might know the power of the resurrection in his life. What can be more powerful than that power that raised Jesus from the dead! If we have resurrection power within us, then what can defeat us? No sickness, hardship, deficiency, or sin is stronger than resurrection power. If we live in resurrection power then there is no need to fear our present, our past, or our future for all is swallowed up in resurrection.
Fifthly, the fellowship of His suffering. While we might not think of this as a benefit, it unites us and draws us into fellowship with Him. In Christ, when we suffer, we do not suffer alone but in our suffering, God is near us in a real and vital way. In our suffering, we experience His comfort, love, and sustaining power that enables us to endure under it. Paul, speaking of suffering and weakness, said, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Sixthly, Paul hoped to be conformed to Christ death. It is only when we are conformed to Christ's death that we can be raised to newness of life. Jesus came that we might "have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) However, this life is only possible when we have come to be conformed to His death. Speaking of baptism, Paul writes, "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4)
Finally, Paul believed in eternal life. Jesus asked, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36) What use is this life if not to prepare us for eternity? Why strive to live a godly life if there is no hope of a life after this one? If this life is all we have, why not "eat, drink and be merry" (Luke 12:19)? Our hope in Christ is an eternity spent with Him; and eternity spent with the one who is not just loving but who is love. What more could anyone hope to find? What more could motivate someone to suffer the loss of all things for the unimaginable richness of Christ offers us to gain?