Summary: Paul tells us what our perspective should be on the world, our Lord and ourselves.
GODISNOWHERE - Which is it? "God is nowhere" or "God is now here?" It's all in how you look at things, isn't it? That's why Paul says we need to develop the right perspective if we're going to get life right.
1. How to look at the world - vs. 1-7
The world has its ideas about success. But as one who has a personal connection with God, I must remember the ultimate example of true success is not found in the world, but in the example of Jesus Christ.
A. A prescription - v. 1
I can avoid buying into the world's flawed ideas of success if I keep my eyes on Jesus. I'm to find my absolute satisfaction in Him alone. This will safeguard me from buying into the world's false standards of success and guarantee my life is lived as God designed it to be lived.
A lady came to her pastor with a list of complaints about folks in the church. He filled a cup with water and asked her if she would do him to favor of walking around the church building three times, making sure she didn't spill a drop of water from the cup. After having done so, he asked what she had noticed. She replied, "I didn't notice anything, since I was focused on making sure no water spilled from the cup I was carrying." He replied, "That's the point. If you will turn your focus to Jesus and following Him, you won't have time to notice all the things you're complaining about."
As the hymn writer expressed it, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face; und the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."
B. A description - vs. 2-7
1) The force at work behind the world's idea of success - vs. 2-3
The world's idea of success is determined from the opinions of men. That's what Paul means as he speaks of those who would have folks believe the way to live was to comply with the rituals associated with Judaism - especially circumcision.
"We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise." - 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)
Whether the standard is religious or secular, the same is always true, the world's standards of success are determined by men. Consequently, they are always imperfect and fallible. There's only one unchanging standard of success - Jesus Christ. Glorying in Christ alone is the true mark of a child of God, not circumcision; and it's the only way to allow my personal connection with God to lead me to live life as I should.
Paul shows his disdain for those who presume to set standards of success for everyone else by calling them "dogs," a derogatory term in his day. He explains the reason for this disdain in the next verses.
2) The finding he made about the world's idea of success - vs. 4-7
Paul had bought into the world's idea of success. He had everything going for him the so-called "experts" said he should have to succeed.
a) His pedigree - v. 5a
You've heard someone say, "I wasn't born in Portales but I got here as soon as I could." Well, Paul could say, "I was already here."
b) His prestige - v. 5b
c) His passion - v. 6a
d) His practice - v. 6b
Paul was the guy everyone liked and everyone wanted to be like! Yet he found the standards he lived by to be nothing compared to the life Jesus offered! He says, "Hey, if you see a penny and a $100 bill lying on the ground, you don't pass up the $100 and pick up the penny!"
2. How to look at Christ - vs. 8-11
Christ must be our ultimate standard of success. We should set aside every desire other than having a life-changing knowledge of Him! Paul says Christ calls us to live a life described as a "resurrection from among the dead." The world is full of people who think they're living, when in reality, they aren't. But through Christ, we can live differently. God calls us to come out from among the dead and live as Jesus lived! The key is allowing my knowledge of Christ to make a difference in -
A. What I do - v. 9
By developing an intimate knowledge of Christ, I can do what's right in God's sight and insure my life counts for things of eternal significance.
B. How I do it - v. 10a
Through developing an intimate knowledge of Christ, I can learn how to appropriate His power for daily living - the same power by which He was raised from the dead.