Paul on Sacrifice

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“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellence 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.” (Philippians 3:7-8).

Paul recognizes the ephemerality of worldly possessions. He sacrificed all that he had in order to share the gospel of Christ. It was part of his calling as apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul states: “I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” We need to be willing to sacrifice all we have in order to “win Christ.” We have to make sacrifices.

I like Paul’s term – “dung” or, translated differently, “refuse”. Our worldly possessions really, in the long run, do not matter much. What matters is our faith in Christ and our righteousness. Paul counted his possessions as dung – not worth anything. He suffered the loss of all things and was glad to do it for Christ.

However, why I think that the translation of the Greek as “dung” is appropriate is because of how this applies to our worldly possessions. Are they just a big pile of dung, stinking up our lives, making us spiritually ill? Or, do we spread the dung around as fertilizer to help things grow? Dung can help produce new life by helping other things grow. Or, dung can just pile up as a cesspool of filth.

The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught: “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.” (Jacob 2:18-19). Riches need to be used to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to liberate the captive, and to administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. If they are not, riches become a cesspool of filth to us, they are as a pile of dung, piling up in our homes and our lives. Instead, we need to take this dung (all worldly possessions really are refuse) and fertilize those around us – help them to receive nourishment. As we sacrifice for others, dedicating those sacrifices to Christ, we, with Paul, might “win Christ.”

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