“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith –
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).
Paul considered everything he had (titles, achievements, qualifications, possessions) to be worthless compared to the excellence of knowing Christ.
He is not speaking here of merely knowing a doctrine about Christ, but rather knowing Him personally. He wanted to have a greater experiential knowledge of Christ more than anything else. He was willing to give up everything that he might be better acquainted with the character and works of Christ. It was his sole passion, the one thing that motivated him.
Consider his prayer for the Ephesian believers:
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).
His prayer for these believers was, in part, that they might know this seemingly unknowable love of Christ. How could they truly know it, if it was beyond their knowledge? His thought here implies that the finiteness of our minds cannot quite grasp the infiniteness of God and His love for us; as he states in 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Putting these two thoughts together (“to know the love … that surpasses knowledge” and “now I know in part; then I shall know fully”), we come to the conclusion that we are to be ever striving for a fuller understanding, a greater knowledge, of Christ and His love for us while we are on this earth, realizing that our knowledge will never be perfect and whole until we see God face to face.
So then, the question for us is, what are we doing to further our knowledge of Christ? Are we counting every achievement, every “success,” as worthless if it does not expand our experiential knowledge of Him? Do we consider everything we have to be useless if it does not better acquaint us with Him?
Is knowing Christ better your greatest passion in life?