Circumstances and people can rob us of our joy, but so can things; and it is this “thief” that Paul deals with in Philippians 3.
In Philippians 3:18-19, he describes professed Christians who “mind earthly things.” Then in Philippians 3:20 he describes the true believer who has his mind on “heavenly things.” It’s been said that, “some Christians are so heavenly-minded they are no earthly good.” However, I have found the opposite to be generally true today. Unfortunately, some Christians are so earthly-minded that they are no heavenly good. Let’s be sure that we do not “mind earthly things.” Our citizenship is in heaven, and we are just strangers and pilgrims on this earth.
It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in “things” — not only the tangible things that we can see, but also the intangibles such as reputation, fame, achievement, etc. Paul, who had been a proud religionist, wrote about “what things were gain” to him (Philippians 3:7). He also wrote about “those things which are behind” and “those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). In Paul’s case, some of those “things” were intangible, such as his personal achievements as a Pharisee and his zeal for the traditions of his religion. We today can be snared both by tangibles and intangibles, and as a result lose our joy.
But even tangible things are not in themselves sinful. God made things, and the Bible declares that these things are good (Genesis 1:31). The Lord Jesus Christ said that our Father in heaven knows that we have need of certain things, and if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, then all these “things” would be taken care of (Matthew 6:31-34). In fact, the Bible says that it is the living God “who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17).
On the other hand, Jesus warns us that our life is not about “things.” He said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). Many people who have the things that money can buy have forfeited the things that money cannot buy. There are also a great many Christians today who are the slaves of “things,” and as a result do not experience real Christian joy. Remember, life is not about “things.”
Paul, after he became a Christian, suffered “the loss of all things” (Philippians 3:8). That is, all those “things” he had once put in his profit column now showed up as a loss compared to Jesus Christ. He lost his religion and found a relationship in Jesus Christ. Like many religious people today, Paul had enough religion and morality to keep him out of trouble but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven. He realized that his religious pedigree and zeal could never earn salvation, and he placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Make sure you have as well! How sad it would be for a man to “gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36). And let’s be careful that we do not place too much emphasis on “things,” because this old world and everything in it will one day pass away, “but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I John 2:17b).