During Lent we’ve been playing with the theme of honor and shame in various biblical passages. Our purpose has been to explore how God honors us, especially through the person of Christ; and how we in turn give honor to God.
The text in front of us this morning is an eye‐popping passage. Paul plays with honor and shame in dramatic ways. First, he lists all of his claims to honor. It’s really a kind of résumé where Paul brags about all the wonderful things he’s done in his life. I was circumcised when I was 8 days old, he says, at exactly the time good Jewish boys should be circumcised. I belong to the people of Israel, to God’s own chosen, holy, and beloved people. Even among those chosen, I have special status, because I was born in the elite tribe of Benjamin, descended from the youngest son of Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel. I’m a Hebrew of Hebrews, an elite among the elite. Moreover, I kept the Jewish law perfectly, down to the last detail, just like the Pharisees do. I was so zealous for God, so zealous for God’s law, that I even persecuted the church because I thought it was a heretical Jewish sect. All these things gave me a huge amount of honor in the eyes of my fellow Jews, says Paul. I could hold my head high with the best of them.
- Philippians 3:4 - 14