Well, it is a new day and a new week and nearly a new month here in my corner of the world–Monday morning, February 28. I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely SHOCKED that tomorrow is March 1. (No snickering from the peanut gallery–yes, I learned all about the calendar when I was in first grade too.) It just seems like a week ago that I was making resolutions for this new year. I am convinced I am living in a time warp!
Anyway, enough about that. In my last post, I promised I would share a few more thoughts about thinking too highly of ourselves. I would have done this last week, but I was too busy looking out for my own interests to tap the keyboard for this blog. Slap my hand! Although I will say that there are times in life, where there are more interests on our plates that we have to be looking out for…particularly when you are preparing for a move.
Today I am focusing on Philippians 2:3 which says…do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves… Here we see the spiritual meets the practical place of our thinking and motivations.
Do nothing from selfish motives or self-conceit. Nothing? This is a hard command that hits at the heart of my motivations with convicting accuracy. Why do I do the things I do? If I were able to see a print out of my motivations over the last week, I am sure I would be shocked at how pervasive selfishness is in my thinking. As I was getting pounded on the door of my attention with this verse, I noticed that it was placed in an interesting progression of thought in the surrounding verses. This is kind of like a Humble sandwich as opposed to a slice of Humble pie. I have tried to visually separate the verses to demonstrate my point.
Have you read Philippians 2:1-8 lately? Just in case you haven’t, I’ll post it here for your convenience:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (NASB)
I find it interesting that these uncomfortable verses on selfishness are sandwiched between a description of how the body of Christ should be acting and how Christ showed true humility. Verses 1 and 2 show us that loving encouragement, compassion, and Spirit-led affection are the result of looking out for one another. I see that if my eyes are glued to my own problems and plans, I will not truly see the needs and interests of others. It isn’t that I don’t want to–I really do care about other people. It is just that sometimes there doesn’t seem to be much brain-power left after I deal with myself and my stuff. Have you noticed that self-absorption is a consuming state of mind? Investing in interests of others and caring about their concerns creates unity and bonds of friendship. Looking up the word regard, I see that it means to esteem one another—there is a reciprocal understanding embedded in the meaning of this verse. Caring for one another helps maintain unity, agreement, and lack of division. These things are crucial to good relationships…particularly in marriage and family.
Now look on the other side of the verse about selfish thinking and see the contrast of the example of Christ. Emptying Himself of His divine glory and not insisting that He be treated according to His position, demonstrates a mind-boggling level of humility. Sacrificing Himself for our benefit is the extreme act of looking out for the interests of others. Although I will never be challenged to demonstrate the same inconceivable level of humility that Christ showed, I can’t miss Paul’s instruction that I am to have the same attitude of letting go of my own interests and caring for the interests of others.
Here is one more similar passage found in Romans 12:9-13:
Let love be without hypocrisy Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
Now these are some thoughts to chew on for a while. Bon Appétit