So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. ~Philippians 2:1-4 (ESV)
We see it too much—the brokenness in relationships, the fighting at home, the rivalries at work, and the long-held bitterness at church. In a world filled with people damaged by sin and clinging to pride, we hurt others and others hurt us. Yet, God calls his people to a different path. He calls us to walk in the ways of love, joy, and peace. So how do we do that?
Paul gave a two-part answer in the first eleven verses of Philippians 2. The answer involves how we view others (today’s post) and how we view Jesus (Thursday’s post). To walk the path of love, joy, and peace, we must learn to view others through eyes of humility and concern.
This flows, first, from our relationship with Jesus. Paul spoke of “encouragement in Christ” and “participation in the Spirit.” He assumed those in the church to which he wrote were people who had committed themselves to follow Jesus through faith. They had experienced his grace and had known the joy of salvation. They had forsaken their life of sin for the everlasting life that Jesus gives. This is what ultimately produces love, affection, and sympathy, the very things that if present among the church would lead to greater joy for Paul as a spiritual leader.
Then, second, it flows from our attitude. Notice that Paul did not tell the Philippians to abandon doing good to themselves. He didn’t say, “put your own interests aside.” Rather, he told them to lift others higher. Humility, then, isn’t about self-abasement, but other-exaltation. Jesus said much the same thing when he told us the second part of the “great commandment”: love your neighbor as yourself.
There is an assumption in the words of Paul and Jesus that we will want to seek our own good and care for ourselves. Yet, at the same time, we’re to seek the good of others. So, Paul wrote: “Count others more significant than yourselves” and “Look not only to [your] own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
So, yes, we have our own will and our own interests but we should ask: What is best for this other person [replace with the name of spouse, child, coworker, classmate, neighbor, friend, etc.]? What can I do to serve them and build them up? And the beautiful thing about this is that in a community of people, whether we speak of in the home or the church, if we each ask these questions and have such an attitude, then each of us will also have our own needs met. As we focus on serving others, there will be others who focus on serving us. Then the edification becomes mutual, then we all gain a taste of the best.
Such an other-focus concern brings greater joy, love, and peace to the places we gather, live, work, and play.
New posts from this devotional series in Philippians will run most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.