Colonial | Several years ago, my friend hosted a dinner party when her mother came in town from Tennessee. Her mom was a Colonial Dame – that is, a woman who is descended from an ancestor who lived in British-America. One guest asked, “What’s the difference between a Colonial Dame and a Daughter of the American Revolution?” In a strong, highbrow Southern accent, she kindly replied, “Oh, bless your heart. About 150 years, sweetie.”
Hebrew | Paul was the equivalent of a Colonial Dame. He was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews” . In other words, he wasn’t an immigrant or a convert. His parents were Hebrews and their parents before them. They circumcised him according to the Abrahamic covenant and named him after the great king of Israel, Saul, who was also descended from Benjamin, one of only two sons of Jacob and his beautiful wife Rebekah.
Accolades | Yet Paul didn’t just live off the wealth and reputation of his family. He worked and achieved and performed. Thus, not only was he a Colonial Dame, he was also a Supreme Court Justice. He attended prestigious schools, excelled beyond his classmates, and received professional accolades. As he said, “as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” .
Reversal | When Paul met Christ, however, everything flipped: “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” . Why was Christ more valuable to him than everything he had inherited and achieved? Because “being found in Christ” meant that he was saved from eternal death unto eternal life , “sharing in his sufferings” meant that he was being made more holy , and “attaining the resurrection from the dead” meant that he would rise again with Christ . These are the immeasurable riches of knowing Christ – treasures that eclipse everything else and rewards that cannot be inherited, bought or achieved.
Prayer | Lord, We long to live like Paul – practically and daily living out the reality that we value knowing Christ more than anything we could ever have or achieve. Therefore, help us love the eternal riches of Christ and teach us how to treasure him above all else. Amen.