I'm getting back to the book of Philippians this week. Today I'll look at Philippians 2:1-4
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4
In this passage the Apostle Paul gives two negative commands and two positive commands. We'll look at the negative commands first:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition. This means that we, as Christians, must not be motivated by our own status or prestige. Many times when we're considering doing something we wonder how this will advance us personally or how this will give us the upper hand. Paul tells us not to do that.
Do nothing out of vain conceit. This is hard for me, because I enjoy it when someone notices me doing something well. It is okay to give and receive recognition, but recognition should not be our motivation for action. Ask, "Would I still do this if no one noticed?" If you can say "yes", then your heart is likely in the right place.
Now, on to the positive commands:
In humility consider others better than yourself. This is hard and I think this requires us looking at what humility really is. To do that I'll quote the immensely quotable C.S. Lewis from his novel "The Screwtape Letters":
"...humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it."
"The Enemy (God in this book) wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour's talents... or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things."
I believe Lewis' ideas on humility to be correct. In Philippians Paul asks us to be humble like Jesus. Jesus never thought of Himself as less than holy and less than King. Rather, Jesus, knowing He was God and King, chose to think of others and of God the Father. So much of sin is us thinking about ourselves first and foremost. God wishes that we think first of Him and then the people He created. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. We must think about God and others more.
Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. We, as Christians, must take care of ourself AND others. We cannot run ourselves to death in the interests of others and therefore end our usefulness; but we cannot be so full of ourselves that we never look after the interests of others. Think of it like this: When a plane is going down you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on before you put your child's mask on. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen you won't be able to help your child. Following directions is not selfish. But if you put on your own oxygen mask and then refuse to help anyone else with theirs you are selfish and probably coupable.
Practice true humility. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" today.