How Can We "Count Everything as Rubbish" (Philippians 3:8)?

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Published: Jan 23, 2023
How Can We "Count Everything as Rubbish" (Philippians 3:8)?

Our relationship with the Lord is the most important part of our life, and after we pass away, it is the deciding factor if we go to heaven or hell... By looking at eternity from this perspective, we can see how everything truly is rubbish compared to Jesus. 

Philippians 3:8 tells us, “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” (ESV). In this New Testament passage, Paul tells us that he considers everything a waste compared to knowing Christ. The prior verses, Philippians 3:3-7, tells us about Paul’s extensive past and how he considers it nothing too because He now knows Christ. 

With this thought in mind, how can we count everything as rubbish today?

Nothing Is Greater Than Christ

As mentioned, Paul discusses the truth that he was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless” (Philippians 3:5-6). Paul is stressing how he believed himself to be an important person with an extensive religious past. Despite the high emphasis and importance Paul placed on these things, he now considered them rubbish as compared to Christ. He no longer prided himself as being of the tribe of Benjamin, possessing great zeal, or being a Hebrew of Hebrews. Instead, He suffered the loss of all these things and deemed them as rubbish because knowing the Lord Jesus was better. 

In our lives, we too can count everything as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. Many individuals struggle with pride or think they are better than someone else. With our human nature, we are all prone to sin as we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). If we become prideful, we will become blind to the amazing grace of the Lord. In other words, if we place a bigger emphasis on the things we accomplish, our background, or our last name compared to our relationship with the Lord, we will lose sight of Him. Rather than finding our hope, security, and peace in ourselves, we need to consider all of these things as shifting sand, things truly out of our control, compared to a life surrendered to Christ. Jesus is greater than where we come from, where we grew up, or our profession. 

We can count everything as rubbish by looking to the Lord and praising Him. Even if we have great wealth, many friends, and a nice place to live, it is still nothing compared to Christ. Everything and anything in this world is nothing compared to the Lord who created the world and everything in it (Acts 17:24-25). As Paul tells us in Philippians 3:5-6, he saw himself as a true “Hebrew of Hebrews,” which he took great pride in being. However, after coming to know the Lord and accepting Him, he counted all of these things as rubbish. When Paul says “rubbish,” he means he sees these things as being nothing, or even some translations utilize the word “garbage” (NIV). 

By understanding the term “rubbish,” we can see the gravity of Paul’s words mean in this situation. He is telling us that all these great things are nothing—not even second place to Jesus, but absolutely nothing—compared to Christ. Think about your own life. Do you have anything that you feel trumps your dedication to Christ? Do you truly count everything as rubbish compared to the Lord? Could you still find your worth, hope, and purpose in Jesus if your job, family, or prestigious social standing was taken away? If you don’t currently, you can start today. Look to the Lord and praise Him. Recognize that Jesus is the most important person and part of your life. Prioritize your time with the Lord by reading the Bible and talking with Him in prayer. By placing Jesus at the front of your life and as the most important part of your life, you will be counting everything as rubbish. The things that once gave you worth will no longer hold a candle to your life's meaning that is found in Christ. 

Things Won't Last Forever

The things in our life don’t last forever. When we die, we cannot take our possessions with us. If we look at this vital truth, we can see just how everything in our life is rubbish compared to Christ. Maybe we have a nice car, a large home, or enough clothes to last a lifetime, but none of these things stay with us forever, and none of these things can give us salvation. Even if these things might give us the illusion of security, they cannot give us security forever as the Lord can. The car may break down, the house might be the victim of a natural disaster, or we might outgrow our clothes. None of these things are worth comparing to the Lord as He is greater than all things.

Knowing Christ and growing in our relationship with Him is the greatest part of our life. Great riches, fame, and power cannot compare to knowing the Lord. Paul was a man who was quite powerful and high up within the Jewish community as he was a Pharisee. Yet, Paul gave all of this up and saw these titles as utterly worthless. This is the perspective we need to take in our lives. We might be a company's CEO, or we might have a great family name drenched in wealth, yet these things are nothing compared to Christ. Focus on growing in Him and prioritizing your relationship with Him. It is through focusing on the Lord, praising Him, and prioritizing our relationship with Him that we can count everything as rubbish.

Prioritize Quality Time with Christ

The more time we spend with Him, the more we will be able to recognize that nothing compares to Him. Jesus, our Lord, is our Almighty Savior, and only through Him can we have eternal life. Our relationship with the Lord is the greatest thing that could happen to us because it is a personal relationship with God that gives our souls purpose. Remember these facts when you are trying to count everything as rubbish. Nothing in all of creation is more important than God. The more time we spend with Him in prayer and Bible reading, the more God’s light will shine in our lives and the more we will understand God as our Creator and everything else as creation. If we continue to place incorrect things as the center of our lives, we will drift further away from God. We don’t need to place things of the world as more important than the Lord.

The world tries to teach us that our priority needs to be based on how much money we make, our accomplishments, or our appearance, yet Paul urges us here in Philippians 3:8 to reject this teaching. He wants us to count everything as rubbish compared to knowing the Lord. We cannot do this if we live according to how the world prioritizes things. Instead, we can only count everything as rubbish by turning to the Lord, focusing on Him, and growing in our relationship with Him. This might sound daunting at first, but investing more time with the Lord will help your life and your Christian walk. It will help you truly follow Paul’s teachings as outlined in Philippians 3:8

Nothing in the entire world is worth more than the Lord. We must prioritize our time with the Lord and set our eyes upon Him. Try implementing these steps and see if they help you start counting everything as rubbish compared to the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord is the most important part of our life, and after we pass away, it is the deciding factor if we go to heaven or hell. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and Lord, we will go to heaven. However, if we don’t, we will go to hell. By looking at eternity from this perspective, we can see how everything truly is rubbish compared to Jesus. 

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/beerphotographer

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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