Open Your Bible
Philippians 3:1-11, Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 Peter 2:1-10
When my husband was in business school, he had to develop an “elevator pitch” as part of his job search. An elevator pitch is a fairly standard business practice with the goal of selling something (a business idea, a person for a job, or a product) in the amount of time it takes you to ride an elevator with someone. For my husband and his fellow students, the idea was simple. At career fairs with large companies who hired the best and brightest from top business schools, you need to make yourself stand out in thirty seconds or less: say who you are, why you are different, and why you can bring unique value to the company.
In the first eleven verses of Philippians 3, Paul offers his own succinct and beautiful elevator pitch for gospel transformation. He lays it all out, right there: who he was, who he is now, and why it matters.
So who was Paul? He was the Hebrew born of Hebrews, who said of himself, “If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more” (Philippians 3:4). Paul, a Pharisee whose life mission was to persecute and kill Christians, had all the right answers. He followed the law, which he knew backward and forward and to the letter.
But when confronted firsthand and face to face with the truth of who Jesus really is, Paul declared, “Everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ” (v.7). Despite the perfect resumé, the right pedigree, the unflappable credentials—Paul had nothing to offer before God. What a radical gospel transformation Paul experienced! It’s incredible, his confidence in the gift of grace that Christ offers to us.
I often feel so very lost in the darkness of my own sin. I know I have nothing to offer, despite my best efforts. But this confidence Paul describes? I don’t always believe it is available to me, too. My brain and its twisted paths of anxiety, fear, too many words and not enough faith, often lead me down the road of relying on my own flesh. I reason, I’m not good enough for God, but if I work harder, read my Bible more, pray more, be nicer to people, maybe then I’ll become more like Christ.
But here, in his eleven-verse elevator pitch for the gospel, Paul reminds me again that those thoughts are not true. My righteousness cannot come from my own flesh or from the law, but only through faith in Christ (vv.9–10). Jeremiah 9:23–24 echoes the same promise:
The wise person should not boast in his wisdom;
the strong should not boast in his strength;
the wealthy should not boast in his wealth.
But the one who boasts should boast in this:
that he understands and knows me—
that I am the LORD.
He is the Lord, mighty to save and full of abounding grace. What He requires from us is a desire “to know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10), a power that is available to all who receive the gospel of grace. May we remember, and always be thankful for, the privilege of being able to stand on the merit of Christ alone.