Philippians 3:4-9 “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”
Text Galatians 1:14 “And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
Writing to the Galatians, Paul spoke of “profiting in the Jew’s religion.” The word “profiting” means to drive forward or to advance in various ways. If we are to determine the extent of Paul’s advancement, we need only to contrast Paul to those about him. Consider Paul’s position, “above . . . mine own nation.” While it may have been a statement of pride, it is none the less true, Paul was one of a kind; he occupied a superior position. Whatever the religious event or activity, Paul was the man to beat. There was Paul’s passion, “being more exceedingly zealous.” The super abounding zeal of Paul caused him to excel in earnest and frequent religious activities. Paul did not strive to meet the standard; Paul set the standard for all that were man enough to follow! Paul’s position and passion would cause him to be worthy of the honor and praise of men if it were not for the phrase “my equals.” Paul had no rivals until he got a glimpse of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road. Blinded by His glory, Paul would cast all that he had attained upon the dung hill of human effort and strive for a higher goal. While Paul may have shown dividends in religion, he revealed a deficit in his debt to righteousness. As we press forward in our Christian experience, may we aspire to a higher standard than those about us! God has not called us to measure up to the brethren, but to bear the image of the Beloved!