“Do nothing from selfish ambition 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 interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”— Philippians 2:3-7 (ESV).
Two recent conversations led me to think about the vast cultural and behavioral differences in the United States. One of the women resides in a northeastern state and was visiting her mother in Oklahoma. The other woman is a recent transplant from a western state.
During the first conversation, the woman who was visiting commented on the attitude differences between people in her community and this one. Her observations led to the conclusion that people in this state are friendlier, more helpful and more caring.
The second conversation mirrored the other woman’s observations, adding specific incidents she had noticed. She noted the small courtesies, like holding the door open for a stranger in a public place and being made to feel welcome in her new community, including her new church family.
Later that week, I had the opportunity to visit with two older women who have always lived in this area. Their lives exemplify Philippians 2:3-4. Both are well-known for their giving, loving and humble spirits.
While it is human nature to consider our own interests first, we are urged by Jesus in Matthew 22:39 to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
Do we really love our neighbors as ourselves? Do we look at everything from the perspective of our own wants and needs, or do we also consider the interests of others?
These questions should lead us to pause and reflect on our thoughts and actions. I admit I’m not always aware of the needs of others. It requires me, as well as other Christ-followers, to live intentional lives, to spend more time in His Word, absorbing the character of Jesus.
In a devotional by David H. Roper, he writes, “In giving of ourselves, we manifest the essence of Jesus’ character, for it has always been His nature to think more about others than He thinks of Himself. Why else would He humble Himself and become ‘obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross’” (Phil. 2:8).
Looking to the interests and needs of others requires a sacrifice on our part. Giving up our own desires for comfort and security leads to a more satisfying life. Contentment is not found in a life of self-centeredness. True contentment and joy can only be found when we look to put others above ourselves. Jesus Christ is the perfect example.
Let us fix our eyes on Him. “For the joy set before him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).