Many Christians around the world are celebrating Lent, a period of 40 days of fasting to reflect upon Jesus’ 40 days he spent in the wilderness. This always happens leading up to Easter Sunday. Whether we celebrate Lent or not, it’s important for Christians to understand, reflect upon, and practice denying self. Denying self was one of the core practices Jesus gave for people to be followers of him. He said that anyone would would be his disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Jesus.
Paul understood what it meant to deny himself for the sake of Christ. The letter to the Philippians was possibly the last words penned by Paul before he died. Many believe that Paul knew his end was near when he wrote the letter. Paul said that, prior to becoming a Christian, his righteousness under the law was blameless. But he considered it all a loss for the sake of Christ.
Paul went on: “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 than I may gain Christ and be found in him. . . ” (Philippians 3:7, 8 ESV). The word for rubbish was a harsh slang term in Greek that literally would translate to “crap” (or really, a slang word harsher than that). The word is intentionally offensive, and it’s only used here in the entire Bible. Paul uses it to drive his point home that everything we think we value is actually all crap. Our righteousness doesn’t come from the law or flesh, but fully depends on our faith. Everything else does not matter!