Check out this paraphrase of Philippians 3:7-9 from Eugene Peterson’s, The Message. For those who are looking for something to do today as they follow Jesus, here ’tis.
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.
Paul was shredding his resume. Everything that he used to make a name for himself, he trashed, so that he could know and make much of Jesus. He traded in his inferior, petty, self-made righteousness for the superior, ultimate, robust gift-righteousness of Jesus.
We do this initially for our justification through repentance. However, since new, sinful motives of resume building grow in my heart—motives that desire the praise, approal and acceptance of men— I am called to make this trade every day (not for justification, but unto sanctification). When I do, the Spirit comes alive in my life and begins to change me from the inside out. I despise my sin and long to see his fruit manifested in my life.
So, in following Paul’s lead, this is a day to take credit for my sinful motives and give Jesus credit for his grace—to take credit for the unrightousness of my flesh and give credit to Jesus for his righteousness that he imputed to me by grace through faith. It is a new day to shred my own resume and glory in the resume of Jesus that is now mine. It is time to stop hoarding my own filthy righeousness and take out the trash.
Now someone rightly might ask: “Does this mean that Paul stopped doing those things that formerly brought him righteousness.” I don’t think so. For example, if Paul counted it righteousness if he preached well, it does not mean that he stopped preaching. It means that he stopped counting his preaching as his righteousness. The motive for his doing changed. He trashed getting righteousness out of preaching, which would have enabled him to preach with much greater freedom, joy and passion—with all of the focus on Jesus.