June 25, 2020 – Thursday
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
These are two tough verses. Very tough. First of all 3a says Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Nothing? I can hear it now, “Come on, can’t I at least look out for myself, my future, my property, my reputation?” According to this verse “No!” Not if it’s out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. But what does it mean to Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Maybe if we consider the word selfish first of all, some synonyms are self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, egotistical, etc. How about conceit? Synonyms conceit are self-importance, pride, vanity, smugness, arrogance, etc. Both are close in meaning.
So how does one avoid being selfish and conceited? The answer is there if we simply read a little further, in humility value others above yourselves. Maybe you get valuing others above yourself in particular circumstances, but what does humility mean here? In the KJV instead of humility we have lowliness of mind which is from the Greek tapeinophrosynē and is Strong’s G5012. If you want to know how to pronounce that mouthful go here. If you to know what it means, read on for the Outline of Bible Usage which tells us the following: the having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; and modesty, humility, lowliness of mind.
Of course we could also simply read on through verse four and see what we end up with for humility: not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Hey, I get that, putting the interests of others above my own interests. But I’m curious, how did we get here? How did this second chapter in the epistle to the Philippians begin anyway? Let’s take a look: 1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
Oh. As Christians the Philippians will make Paul’s joy complete (and that of Jesus as well) if they can be like-minded, like Jesus. Not just the Philippians, but anyone who calls him or herself a Christian. Think about it. Isn’t that what we do with our spouses or children? Or at least isn’t that what we are supposed to do? How about when we have disagreements with fellow Christians? Can we in humility value others above ourselves, not looking to our own interests but each of you to the interests of the others? Or do only our feelings and positions count?
To find out what we should really do, let’s read a bit further to see if we can really get to the core of this.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;
7 rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Okay, I admit it. I can never achieve the same mindset as Christ Jesus. I can’t; that is the simple truth. The rest of the truth though is I can try. All of us can try. Jesus knows our hearts and if He sees us trying, really trying, I believe and hope He will be pleased. Why? Because with honest trying there will success here and there that will increase in number and frequency over time. The successes will be the fruit of our repentance. John the Baptist told the Pharisees to Produce fruit in keeping with your repentance (Luke 3:8a). Repentance and forgiveness, Grace, produces change.
That change in how we behave and look at life, especially how we treat others, is the fruit of our repentance. Our fruit may be such that in humility we value others above ourselves, not looking to our own interests but each of us to the interests of others. Repentance, Grace, Change and no longer acting out of selfish ambition or vain conceit or at least less and less. In doing so we can please Christ Jesus Himself. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a most worthy goal.