SERVING CHRIST ≠ BEING MISERABLE: It can be easy to equate piety (living a holy life) with being miserable. Yesterday we read about Epaphroditus, who almost died in his service to Jesus, and so we conclude that to really serve the Lord we must endure some sort of physical hardship. Chapter three torpedoes that notion. You may have to undergo hardship, but even if that's the case, don't let those hardships make you miserable, rather v1 says to rejoice as you live (and serve) every day to God's glory.
WHY DOES PAUL KEEP TALKING ABOUT CIRCUMCISION??? It seems like every other chapter in the New Testament says something about circumcision, which just seems really bizarre to our ears. In v2 Paul calls those who circumcise people 'mutilators,' but then he says we - Christians - are the circumcised. This whole thing seems really confusing and kind of gross. Here's the thing to remember: From the time of Moses, God's people were those who kept the Old Testament law, and circumcision was primary indicator which sealed a man's (and subsequently his family's) inclusion in God's plan of salvation. But since Christ fulfilled all of the law's requirements, God's people no longer need to jump through all of its hoops. As we just read in Romans 6, we have been set free from the law.
The problem is that this system was so ingrained in Jewish minds that they couldn't let go of it - even the Jews who believed in Christ. They wanted the new Gentile converts to have to jump through the same hoops they had to. It's not just the Jews though... we all have a desire to want to point to things we've done (hoop jumping) to earn salvation rather than fully trusting in Christ (v4).
PAUL'S FLEXING: Very few people could list the accomplishments found in v4-6. Paul had jumped through every hoop he could find, but after he discovered salvation by grace through faith in Christ, he says he considered all of his past 'accomplishments' garbage (v8).
BEING SAVED BY GRACE IS HARD WORK: Here's the irony: trying to achieve piety by checking off boxes and relying upon your own strength will only serve to make you miserable, but don't be too quick to move to the opposite extreme and just coast through life relying on God's grace. Look at the aggressive way Paul experiences God's grace, which he calls 'the prize' in v12-14: he presses on (he mentions that twice) and strains to push himself to know Christ more and more and to reach the goal and win the prize.
AAA Prayer Tips:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Knowing God is of surpassing worth, which makes all else seem like garbage (v8)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God will make it clear to you those things in which you think differently than what He desires.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: