Sometimes I think we tend to get tangled up in theological tongue-twisters and deep doctrinal debate, and then we get separated from what to do right now. Paul’s simple, not simple, advice to the Philippians is a tangible “what now” principle to follow…
“Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Not so simple for us now, and apparently not even nearly 2,000 years ago. Later in this portion of the letter, Paul tells them he hopes to send Timothy to them, saying, “…I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:20-21) Ouch.
Our culture tells us to look out for #1 (ourselves, of course!), that it’s all about our self-esteem, we should build our brand; our platform. But true to the upside-downness of the Kingdom of God, Paul says to look out for OTHERS first, count others more important, seek the interest of others over our own.
And it isn’t about ignoring our well-being…that matters too. He follows the original statement with, “Look out not only to your own interests but also to the interest of others.” (Philippians 2:4) I think he is trying to say, “of course you need to look out for yourself, but it isn’t all – or even mostly – about you. Make sure you are looking out for others; in fact, make sure you are counting them more significant than yourself.”
Why? Why not all just look out for ourselves? Because humility and counting others more significant than ourselves is the path to unity, ”…being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2)
So, how does that work? In his commentary, David Guzik says, ”If I consider you above me and you consider me above you, then a marvelous thing happens: we have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on.” That sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?
WHAT IF we did this…what if we tried it for even one whole day. In all that we did, what if we put the interest of others above our own. What if we cheered more for others. What if we quickly volunteered for that thing no one wants to do. What if we went out of our way to meet the needs of others; to make their life easier. What if we did that thing that never got done because no one stepped up to do it. What if we fed someone else before we ate a meal. What if we helped someone else get that thing we really wanted. What if we made a phone call to open a door for someone on a big dream or small need. What if we wished for the success of our neighbor more than us getting that thing we have been waiting on.
And then….WHAT IF others did the same for us. That would be an incredible, united, solid community. But someone has to take the first step. Well, that first step was taken by Jesus. Jesus traded his holy residence for earth. Jesus traded his heavenly body for flesh. Jesus traded his throne for a cross. He looked out for us more than Himself. He took the first step, now we can do likewise. One day, guys. Then another. And another. Until it becomes a habit; becomes our life. Let’s embark on a grand experiment toward unity and genuine love for one another.
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