Philippians 3:1-11

June 24, 2021



Have you ever noticed how hard kids sometimes work for something make-believe? My kids will go outside, gather sticks and buckets of rocks almost as big as they are, drag them to another side of the yard, drop them into a useless pile, and then go right back to get more, sweating and grunting the whole way. I’ve often watched in wonder at how hard they’ll work for nothing, but the second I tell them to clean their room they fall on the floor crying “BUT IT’S TOO MUCH WORK!!!” Like, what? 

But if you think about it, don’t people kind of do the same thing with God? So many of us spend our entire lives working and straining to achieve goodness and righteousness, picking up spiritual sticks and rock buckets full of “good works” and then carrying them across our yards only to drop them into a pile that does absolutely nothing for us. We’re just doing the same things over and over again in hopes that it’ll make us into better humans. It’s truly amazing how hard we’ll work for nothing.

Paul gives the church in Philippi a similar story in Philippians 3:1-11 when he talks about the religious leaders who were doing the very same thing. They were spending their days boasting about their buckets of good works and how everyone else should pick up their own buckets and get to work, but Paul argues back that their buckets are full of trash.

(Yes, he literally says those kinds of good works are trash. Paul was not boring!) 

And the only way he knows this is because he too used to carry buckets full of trash until he realized Jesus had a better way: faith.

See, there are only two ways to try to become good enough to get to God: through works or through faith. 

When you try to get to God through works, you have to be able to meet the standard he’s set. And if you’ve ever read one page of Leviticus you’ll quickly realize there’s just no way you’ll ever be able to do it all. Or if you’re like the religious leaders and you think for a second you can, then you’ve missed why God actually gave us the Law. He didn’t give it expecting us to actually meet the standard.  He gave it to us so that we realize we can’t. Because the minute we think we’re good enough, we’ve just put pride in our hearts and made ourselves equal to God and broken the Law. It’s kind of a brain bender isn’t it? 

To keep it simple: we will never be as good or holy as God. Which takes us to the second (and truly only) way to get to God.


A super church-y word, but Biblical faith just means means “confidence” or “assurance.” Paul tells us in verse 9 that we can get to God through “faith in Christ.” In other words, we get to God when we have the assurance that Jesus is enough. When we have the confidence that our works are useless in getting favor with God. And that faith opens our eyes to all the people around us carrying those rock buckets back and forth and makes us want to tell them “stop!!!” Which is exactly what Paul is doing for the Philippians here. He’s saying “guys, I’ve been there! I was the best of the best according to the standard, but my heart was prideful. I completely missed the need for a Savior. Don’t do what I did. Stop following the people teaching these things and follow Christ!” 

In the same way, put down your spiritual sticks and rock buckets, ladies. Quit letting yourself believe that going to church every week and picking up your Bible once a month is making you holy. Quit believing you have to have a perfect, put together family. Stop carrying heavy loads you weren’t meant to carry. Feeling like you have to do it all and then some. Jesus did it all already. Rejoice in that! 

I pray you stop working for nothing and find rest in knowing that whatever you aren’t, he is, and because of that, we have everything we need.

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