Lists

4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless (Philippians 3).

Ah, lists.  We all have them, don’t we?  Yes, an index of our achievements or records of our defense against imagined accusations.  And we’re always ready to rattle our lists off at a moment’s notice.  Of course, I could be wrong, but I’ll wager it took Paul all of ten seconds to dictate this list to his amanuensis.  No doubt he had created it long before, taking inventory and cataloging, editing and honing it down to a quite impressive resume.  This is just what happens whenever we “put confidence in the flesh.”  And even though he had likely long ago laid this list aside for his devotion to Christ, yet, there it was — still there to retrieve in the recesses of his mind.   

However, there is some irony here.  You see, the word Paul uses for “confidence” was censured by certain more refined rhetorics who were concerned with a “pure” Greek vocabulary.  They would have looked down their noses at Paul, even as he might have tried to lift his up at them.  The lesson is clear, and supports the adage: “You can’t please everyone.”

Lord, help us This Day to put away our lists, and to have our only confidence in You — to try to please only You.  Amen.