“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” –Philippians 2:3-4
Do you consider yourself selfish? Is it difficult for you to serve others? Would the people who know you the best say you’re conceited? Into yourself? An attention seeker?
Philippians 2:3-4 is a verse I always come back to. I read it and find it cutting me in new ways because the verse doesn’t just tell us what not to do, it gives us a substitute for ungodly behavior. This verse infers that we’re disobedient to God when we CHOOSE traits that are not of God instead of the ones that are. That’s right, this verse is about choice. You can choose to be into yourself and leave God and the body of Christ as an after thought, or you can choose to die to yourself, again and again (as you promised you would through baptism).
I see it too often, people blaming others for their actions. “It’s because of my Mom that I struggle with an unforgiving heart.” Or…”I would be more faithful to God if my boyfriend would just get saved.” I will tell you, any time you pin your obedience to the oracles of God on another person the devil has blinded you. The devil has tricked you. The devil has used you in his war against God. The only person responsible for your Christianity is you! You always have the choice to do what God says but, in order to do that you must submit and you must humble yourself to be faithful. It’s not easy for anyone but, as the old adage goes “practice makes perfect”. And we should be practicing every day to become less of who we naturally and sinfully are. This is how we find perfection in Christ, by walking in His likeness.
When Philippians tells us to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” that’s exactly what God means. Now, I know that the world is telling you a different story. But, the story of the world is not the story of Christ and if you’re a Christian what book are you reading? Where is your story found? The Book of Life? The Good Book? The devil wants you to be full of yourself but Jesus wants you to empty yourself like He did. Philippians 2:5-8 says, “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.” The first reason we shouldn’t be conceited, full of ourselves, and selfishly ambitious is because the Bible tells us not to. But, if that’s not enough it’s okay, there’s another reason. We see that Christ emptied Himself and we should have this attitude ourselves.
My favorite thing about God is that He doesn’t leave us where we are. He doesn’t leave us with the acknowledgement of bad behavior and sin without providing a fix for it. Praise God for the remedies of godly living He mapped out for us. The rest of verse says “He humbled Himself”. Isn’t that the essence of verse 3 too? Yes, it is. In humility we should serve others because Christ our Savior served us. He served us in the hugest way possible through His death on the cross and it is through that act of service and obedience that we were given eternal life.
So if the Son of God, having all the riches and glory in heaven, humbled Himself to serve others and God what makes us better than Christ? What makes us think we don’t have to do that same? If God required humility, obedience, and service of Christ, His only begotten, God absolutely wants it out of us. Not just some of the time, but all of the time. Please friends, don’t be tricked by the devil who didn’t want to serve God! It is because of his arrogance and disobedience that God had to cast him out! So ask yourself some valuable questions, “Am I bowing down to God or my own intentions? Am I serving and blessing myself or do I bless others and serve others? Do I put myself second or am I always looking to be first?
We’re in a challenging society for sure; Romans 12:2 enlightens us saying, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” I know it’s tempting when you see your friends elevating themselves online, boosting their own confidence with material things, pursuing their own will without ever thinking about who it may hurt or effect. Just know that you are called to a higher standard. Even if no one stands, you stand. Christ stood alone and there may be times when you must stand alone and fight the good fight. Praise God that even in those time you will never be forsaken by Him. He has promised to never leave us if we choose to never leave Him. Again, it’s about the choice.
It’s not easy to think of yourself less. It’s not easy to say that today you’ll do something for someone when you’re dead tired and would much rather lay in bed with your feet up and Netflix on. It’s not easy to go visit the widow at take her to breakfast when you’ve worked the night shift the night before. But dear friends it is necessary. We have to follow the pattern of Christ in order to please God and Christ is our standard for humility and service.
Romans 2:8 says, “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” So the choice is yours….reject truth and follow evil with your self-seeking or serve God and others through humility and live a life of blessings and peace. You can decide. I hope you make the right choice.