Gains and Losses, Part 1

By DeLano Sheffield

August 2, 2023

Scripture — Philippians 3:7-9 (NRSV)

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.


We might be closer to the best accomplishment when we learn that the whole of who we are is rubbish when the whole is compared to Christ.


“Whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss.” Some words in Scripture create immediate rub in situations we experience. I cannot imagine in my experiences in engineering, non-profit, or local church work saying “We had a banner year, profits were more than they have ever been! Our number served has made us well known. We’ve finished another phase of building! What a loss!”

The Gospel does incredible work on every part of who we are. It changes our lives from finite to everlasting. It plants the germ of love that ultimately will envelope who we are. It teaches us patience. It relinquishes our need to compare ourselves to anything or anyone else. It forces us to reevaluate how bad bad is. And it helps us reevaluate perspective.

Every accomplishment seems great when compared to itself. Achievement seems great when compared to others. Especially when the litmus test of one’s achievement or privilege is compared to another’s lack or failure. The fact that something is done in time and space is not the problem. The issue is the drab lens used to assess its value. Usually, that assessment is through the splinter of others’ frailty not through the log of our own rating system—both of which inflate (or deflate) the value.

Paul was the pure breed of his people. He was cut from the right cloth and had the bonus of being a Roman national. He could migrate between two worlds in a kind of Kipling-ish “talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch.” But he counted all of it as nothing.

You could render your accomplishments as rubbish. But that could be vain pride masquerading as humility. You could reckon all of your frailties as rubbish compared to Christ. But our greatest frailty might be that we are incomparably frail at understanding how deeply frail we are; certainly, as frail as the failures we see in others. We might be closer to the best accomplishment when we learn that the whole of who we are is rubbish when the whole is compared to Christ. We gain when we lose all. We gain the Lord of all.


What are the places and things that you are holding on to?

Do you hear God saying “I want to hold the ultimate value in your life?”


After you reflect, write down the things that God has shown you and commit to praying over that list in your time with him.


God, I need help letting go of my successes to see you properly. Please teach me what it means to value you above all in a world that constantly says that I need more. Amen.

Banner image by Fahad bin Kamal Anik on Unsplash.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Why We Praise the Lord.

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DeLano Sheffield

Author & Business Resource Specialist

DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coa...

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