Lesson 5: What Really Matters

Lessons in this series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Overview Lesson Index

Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
Lots of Stuff (Activity/Icebreaker) Click here



1. To reinforce Paul's perspective of joy even in the midst of many trials
2. To help students recognize what they can truly count as gain in their own lives
3. For students to be able to forget what is behind and continue to grow closer towards Jesus


Attidude, Endurance, Idols, Joy, Perseverance, Priorities, Pride, Spiritual Growth, Trials

Scripture Memorization

Philippians 3:7-12

OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)

GROUP BUILDING (10 minutes)

Lots of stuff(Activity/Icebreaker) Click here
(This activity can be completed individually, or if desired you can have the class break up into smaller groups of 4 or 5 and let the students share answers with the other members of the group.)

GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)

What in our lives brings us pride? What can we do well? What do we possess that makes us happy? Before we get into our lesson, let's take a few moments to think deeper about these questions.

Workbook Activity

How Am I Blessed? (Part 1)

Take a few moments to jot down some of the things you are blessed with and why.  At least three or four things you do well, and three or four possessions you truly value or are proud of. Your examples will be used later on in the lesson.

   Things I do well: 
   1. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________
   2. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________
   3. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________
   4. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________

   Possessions I truly value:
   1. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________
   2. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________
   3. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________
   4. ______________________ Because: _______________________________________ 

(Give the students a few minutes to think it through and write down their reponses. Remind them that this list will be used later in the lesson, so it is important to be honest.)

DIGGING IN (30 minutes)

Paul is writing to the Philippians to encourage them by knowing there is nothing they can do to achieve salvation by their own works. Anyone who says so, Paul says, is evil. But to illustrate how much he believes this, he points out that if anyone had the right to boast about such things, it is him.

Read Philippians 3:1-6

Discussion Questions
1. Why do you think Paul writes “finally” when he’s only about half way through his letter? (It was not uncommon to write like this, any more than it is for us to say, “one more thing” four times before we end a conversation. Finally just means “oh and one more thing. Paul says finally again in chapter four.)
2. Who were the “dogs” Paul talks about in verse 2? (The dogs were the Judaizers, jews who thought that the old testament had to be honored in order to be a Christian. This meant that they forced would-be followers of Christ to be circumcised and obey other Jewish customs to convert the Christianity. Paul also calls these people "mutilators of the flesh.")
3. Who is Paul referring to when he says “we are the circumcision"? (Paul is saying that Christians are the true circumcision, with circumcised hearts, who “put no confidence in the flesh,” but rely on Jesus for their salvation.)
4. What are some things Paul says are true of him that qualifies him for salvation according to the “dogs” system? (He was circumcised on the eight day, from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew, a Pharisee, etc.)

Paul's Potential Pride

He was circumcised on the 8th day, as any jew would’ve been
He is from the people of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin: he is Jewish
He is a Hebrew of Hebrews, he’s a poster child of Judaism
As for the law, he was a Pharisee and he knows his stuff, like the Pharisees of Jesus' day
For zeal, before he was Paul, he was Saul who persecuted the church and Christians as a jew
For legalistic righteousness, he was faultless. He kept the letter of the law perfectly

If anyone had a right to brag about personal religious accomplishment, it’s Paul. And yet his tone changes in verse 7 dramatically, and he talks about how it is all meaningless

Read Philippians 3:7-9

Here is Paul's point. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend each day reading the Bible. It doesn’t matter how many hours a week you spend at church. It doesn’t matter how many missions trips you go on or how much money you give to the church. People who take pride in religious accomplishments are modern-day judaizers, and Paul (and Jesus) would stand in sharp judgment against such merit systems. Listen to where Paul goes with this, and listen for the voice of Jesus in your conscience, urging you to change your value system.

Discussion Questions
1. What religious accomplishments do you take pride in? Take a look at your list completed earlier. Is taking pride in religious accomplishments any better than taking pride in non-religious achievements? (No.)
2. What does Paul say he counts as loss in verse 7? (He counts “whatever” was to his profit as loss.)
3. What does Paul say he counts as loss in verse 8? (He counts “everything” and “all things” as loss.)
4. How does Paul describe his former way of life in verse 8? (As rubbish.)


5. What makes us righteous according to verse 9? ("Righteous", as well as “faith”, seems to be possessed by Christ, not us. In other words, it is Christ’s righteousness that makes us righteousness. He is reinforcing that our salvation is from God, through Christ, and has very little to do with us.)

Read Philippians 3:10-16

1. What do verses 10-11 mean to you, especially considering Paul’s circumstances? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
2. What is the ultimate goal/prize that Paul discusses? (The ultimate goal for Paul is to be with Jesus, and he awaits the moment when that is so in Heaven.)
3. How does one "press on" as indicated by Paul? (The text makes it clear that knowing Christ is the only way to truly press on.)
4. What kind of things do you face that keep you from being closer to Jesus? What attitudes, possessions, or external stressors hold you back? (Meant to stimulate discussion.)
5. What does "What we have already obtained" mean in verse 16? (We have already obtained salvation, and with salvation we decided to put Christ first. As such, we should continue to do so each day, pressing forward towards Jesus.)

MAKING IT REAL (10 minutes)

We can spend a lot of time and energy trying to do a lot of things. Perhaps we spend a lot of time checking things off our religious checklist. We are so involved in church that we don’t spend time with Jesus. We are so busy telling people they are sinners that we don’t love anyone.

Workbook Activity (10 minutes)

How Am I Blessed? (Part 2)

Refer to the list you created at the beginning of this lesson.

After hearing what Paul said about how he considered his accomplishments in life before knowing Christ, how does that make you feel about each item on your list? 

What if any of these things may be holding you back or hindering you from following Christ?

What are you proud of? What do you have that you love? Is there anything on your list you need to surrender to Jesus Christ?


Partners in Prayer
(Have everyone close their eyes for the next few minutes as you lead them in a time of surrender to God. Explain that this is just between them and God. Have them ask God to reveal something that they need to give over to Him. If they are ready to give it up, if it is rubbish compared to Christ, ask them to simply raise their hands in the air as you pray.)

"Oh, God, please take from us the things that keep us far from You. They are but trash in comparison to knowing You. Compared to You, nothing is significant. Take from us what we don’t need and give to us Your spirit, Your strength, Yourself."

(Next, ask everyone to lower their hands and put them together, cupped as if trying to trap water from a faucet.)

Now pray silently for a minute or so, and ask for God to fill your life with the things that matter: love, faith, and the spirit of Christ.

Repeat the following with me:

     I press on...
     To take hold...
     Of that which Christ took hold for me...
     I press on towards the goal...
     To obtain the prize in Heaven...
     I will take hold of it...

(Finally, ask everyone to grip their hands together, and take hold of the promises of God not only figuratively, but in a very real way.)

Tonight you have been changed by the Spirit of God, and it can last. 

CLOSING PRAYER (2 minutes)

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