Dying for Credit

There are three personal achievements Paul takes credit for in Philippians 3:5-6. They highlight his faithfulness, zeal, and obedience. Achievement contrasts inherited characteristics like circumcision, genealogy, and tribal heritage, but it all gave him confidence in the flesh. His faithfulness led him to pursue an exclusive religious vocation. He thought education was the secret to success. Next stop, Pharisee school. This group was ubiquitous. There were about six thousand Pharisees. To put that in perspective, there only about sixty thousand people in Jerusalem. However they were also exclusive. It was very difficult to become a Pharisee, and if you did, the rules about commerce, hospitality, and ritual cleanliness made it difficult for you to make friends. So what makes a person peruse a life of rigid conformity? What is it about ritual Judaism, Catholicism, or Cults that people find attractive? I think Paul had a bias toward morality, even as an unbeliever. Even without God, he followed because the promise made him feel good. It gave him hope and pride. If you feed a person’s pride, they will live on bread and water. Some will die for a cause that gives them reason to expect credit for their work.

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