Determining Value

The Ultimate Value
Phil. 3:7-11
“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.”

The value we place on something is measured by what we are willing to sacrifice to attain.  If you want to know what you value, look no further than your calendar and checkbook.  Daily we make decisions and choices between the innumerable options we have presented. Those choices involve either our time or money or, in most cases, both.  Yet these are assets that we have in limited quantities.  We only have so much time in 24 hours and so much money in the bank.  If we value money, we will sacrifice our time to spend more hours at work to get more money only to hoard it in some bank account, never to be spent in fear that we do not have enough.  If we value things, we will spend our money to buy and accumulate them. Some might argue that they don’t think about it, so it does not adequately reflect our values because they value other things.  Yet the decisions we make unconsciously using our time and money provide insight into our values, for those unconscious decisions reveal our hidden motivations and desires. Do not get me wrong; it is not wrong to enjoy the time and money that God has given us.  I spend money and time on woodworking and photography because they are two activities that bring enjoyment and help me to de-stress so that I can effectively minister to others.  However, we must ask how these things reveal my ultimate value.  If I spend all my time and money in the woodshop so that I am too busy to spend time with my wife, give financially to support God’s work through the church or spend time with Christ, it has become my ultimate value.
In this passage, Paul reveals his actual values.  He does not necessarily condemn everything else. Instead, he uses the analogy of value to reveal what is truly important in life.  The ultimate and driving value that should govern our lives is the value we place upon our relationship with Christ.  The one thing he values most is the pursuit of a vital relationship with Christ, in which he becomes possessed by Christ and manifests Christ in all aspects of life.  So high is this value that everything else becomes rubbish by comparison. The term rubbish is a mild, sanitized translation of a very vivid word. When I was growing up, one of the chores I had was to clean out the pig pens each night.  I would then haul the manure to the back of the barn to be later spread on the fields for fertilizer. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, the word “means literally ‘dung,’ ‘scraps,’ ‘refuse.’”  Paul then draws the comparison.  The value of Christ is so great that prioritizing and hoarding anything else in the world becomes nothing more than the collection of manure. Only a fool would value dung as a possession worthy of sacrificing anything else to attain.
At the end of life, there is one thing that has genuine and lasting value: the person of Christ and the possession of his righteousness.  When we stand before God on the day of judgment, he will not evaluate the quality and quantity of the clothes we have, the cars we possess, or the things we collect.  His judgment will not be based on how far the corporate ladder we climbed or how successful we became in our careers.  The only basis of our evaluation will be whether we embraced Christ as our savior and did we placed the pursuit of his character and ministry as our highest value.  If the pursuit of Christ is not the highest priority of our time, and if the support of his redemptive work does not take precedence in the use of our money, then we become nothing more than manure collectors, and that will not lead to transformation, only to smelling like animals.

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