“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” Philippians 3:7
What motivates you? The driving force behind our actions is usually whatever seems to benefit us the most. That’s why the apostle Paul’s life presents us with a challenge. Because he placed more value on eternal things than temporal things, he was motivated by the spiritual more than the physical. Paul’s motives for life are aspirational, yet attainable for us today.
First, what we’re willing to relinquish reveals what we value most. We see this pictured in athletics—victory comes at a personal price to the athlete. But the value of the goal outweighs the cost. Paul was willing to give up anything hindering his spiritual growth. He counted the cost of following Jesus and found that everything he had previously gained or achieved was worthless in comparison to his relationship with Christ (vv7–8).
Secondly, what we value most becomes the driving force of our lives. That’s why finding our significance in power, position, or possessions is dangerous. Such things are not eternal but temporal. Paul was driven by an overwhelming desire to know Christ more—to live each day in Jesus’ righteousness and resurrection power (vv9–11).
This is not some cavalier or emotional commitment. The fact that Paul used the word count throughout this passage shows how carefully he considered his spiritual condition. Getting to this point in his walk with Christ was a struggle, even for Paul. In Romans 7:14-25, he describes the spiritual war between what his mind knew to be right and what his flesh desired. The only way to attain what he valued most was to die to himself and conform to Christ (Galatians 2:20).
So, what motivates you? Do you place the highest value on what this world offers, or on what only Jesus can offer? Is the driving force in your life to achieve some earthly goal, or to know Christ better each day? Paul describes a life of conformity, not comfort. And while it’s not a life of ease, it is a life of excellence. But it requires giving all that you are and all that you have to the Lord. Anything the world can offer or that we can achieve on our own is worthless in comparison to knowing Jesus!