May 17th, 2023 – Wednesday Afternoon
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:3-4
The ultimate definition of love is God Himself. If we approach this passage without that understanding, we end up throwing our hands in the air at such impossible commands; yet, if we know God and His love through the Lord Jesus, this passage follows exactly in-line with the truly loving life He has called, equipped, and empowered us to live. How’s that? Jesus did nothing from selfishness or empty conceit; He lived with the humility of mind that regarded us as more important than Himself; He did not look out for His own interests, but for those of everyone else.
So what does this passage mean for us? I know it may sound strange, but maybe we should take it to mean exactly what it says. What if you and I are really to live this way? What if you and I are to adopt a humble mind and regard everyone else as more important than ourselves? [We can remove the “what ifs”…I am being a bit facetious with this line of questioning; we most definitely are to live in this manner as beloved children of the Living God!] Would our perspectives change? Would our lives be different than they are today? Would others around us see a radical shift in how we treat them with our thoughts, words, and actions?
I have to confess, even to you reading this, that I have not obeyed these commands to their fullest extent. Even with you I have not always (or maybe sometimes I even have often not) regarded you as better or more important than myself. I have done much from selfishness (there are political overtones to this Greek word, and it means, among other things, “a desire to put oneself forward”) and empty conceit (one of the definitions – “groundless self-esteem”); I have often struggled with regarding myself as superior or more important than you. So far as directing my attention to my own interests (along the lines of the previous commands) versus yours, I stand guilty of that as well. I ask your forgiveness as I am not joking around or being hypothetical; it is high time that I (and you) start taking God’s Word seriously and applying it to my heart and mind.
So how do we obey these commands? First, as with every other command and instruction in Scripture, we must look to our risen Redeemer and gracious Lord; only He can enable us to embrace His life and only He can empower us to live it by the indwelling of His Spirit. Second, we must choose to focus on Him one step at a time; don’t get caught up in tomorrow or even one hour from now – trust and obey now, live now for His approval alone. Finally, we must be intentional, even at the thought level; 2 Corinthians 10:5 speaks of the spiritual war and the winning strategy of taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. What if we stop every single thought that comes into our brain and run it through the filtration system of Philippians 4:4-9, Hebrews 12:1-4, and our passage today?
Father, help us in our weaknesses to stand firmly upon the solid Rock and allow You to have the authority in our hearts, minds, and bodies that You rightly deserve!