Spiritual pride is dangerous garbage. Paul's pride in his privileged family background and religious education had made him a loyal and faithful Rabbinic student but he was no servant of God. Paul’s misplaced zeal in seeking religious approval made him an enemy of Jesus Christ and a menace to the church. Having listed his 'religious qualifications' (Philippians 3:5-6), he now puts them in the same category as animal manure and rotting household waste. He calls them dung ('garbage' in this translation). That is an exceptionally strong condemnation of what most people would think was very good.
Garbage is a problem in itself and creates even more problems if left alone. Apart from its uselessness, garbage soon becomes a breeding ground for dangerous germs and food for vermin. Untreated, it will create a nauseating stench, pollute water supplies, infect the young and vulnerable elderly, and spread disease. The sick people then pass disease to others and whole communities can be contaminated as by a plague.
That is how Paul saw his past sincere, zealous, devout, active leadership role in Christless religion. Instead of spreading the truth, he had broadcast lies about Jesus and showed his disgust for Christ’s people. Far from doing good, he had actually encouraged a plague of wickedness against the church, and many had suffered. But when he came to know Jesus Christ, he realised just how dangerously worthless all his religious zeal had been. So much so, that he renounced his religious credentials and pledged himself to live and work for Christ alone.
Today's believers need to complete that transformation too. There is no place to be proud of any position in the church or Christian fellowship; it will only breed spiritual disease in you and others. There is no place for arrogant claims of spiritual knowledge or power; it is useless and will get in the way of God's work. Yet we are all naturally infected with pride, and we will contaminate others (Hebrews 12:14-15) until we choose to deposit all our garbage at the cross of Jesus. He died to pay for it all; so be sure you give it all to Him.
© Dr Paul Adams