"Whatever was profit I now consider a loss, compared ..."There is a business principle called opportunity cost. InvestorWords defines it like this:
The cost of passing up the next best choice when making a decision. For example, if an asset such as capital is used for one purpose, the opportunity cost is the value of the next best purpose the asset could have been used for. Opportunity cost analysis is an important part of a company's decision-making processes, but is not treated as an actual cost in any financial statement.When Paul was writing about opportunity cost, he was comparing his pedigree with knowing Jesus of Nazareth. Now, you have to keep in mind that Paul (formerly Saul) was SOMEBODY in his day. Just before the comparison, he lays out his credentials. They are weighty indeed, and he had placed tremendous value in them ... until. Until he met Jesus, and his life was turned completely upside down.
Now he's writing a letter to a group of Jesus followers, many of whom might have been struggling with their faith. Paul essentially says, "I understand. I thought I had it all. Lots of prestige. Tons of street cred. But it's just a big pile of, well, you know ... compared to knowing Jesus. In fact, EVERYTHING is just garbage compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus. Losing everything? Those things weren't worth anything anyway. Knowing Jesus? Priceless!"
Jesus once told a story about a man who found a treasure buried in a field. When he discovered it, he went and SOLD ALL THAT HE HAD and bought the field. Opportunity cost. When you find something of greater ~ surpassing ~ value than that which you currently have, you're willing to exchange it all, that you may possess that which is of far greater worth.
Check it out for yourself. Paul wrote a short letter to some followers of Jesus who were in Phillipi (modern day Greece, I believe). Jesus' story about the man and the treasure was recorded by a tax collector named Matthew.