In Phil. 2:1-4, Paul tells the readers that they could bring him great joy while he is in prison if they conduct themselves in a way that will maintain the unity of the faith. When Paul saw unity in disciples of Jesus it brought him inner joy.
How can that be our experience today? Paul makes it very simple. Notice what he says in verses 3-4,
“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.”
In addition to his comments of not living in a way that is self-centered or leads to pride, Paul shares a couple of things that we can do that will allow us to experience unity.
Paul tells the readers that they should in “humility,” “count” others more significant than themselves. The word for “humility” describes “a quality of voluntary submission and unselfishness” (Friberg). This implies the equality of all believers, but the mature choice is to see the value in others and treat them and their needs above my own.
In addition, the word “count” literally is referring to leadership. Figuratively, it is describing “to lead out before the mind” (Zodhiates). Paul is challenging the Philippians to right thinking. I need to have my mind lead to appropriate action.
So what is all this saying? I should voluntarily choose to lead my actions with my mind in a way that sees the needs of others and treat them as more significant than myself. This does not mean others are more important or more valuable, but because I have a clear understanding or who I am, and what God expects of me, I can choose to serve others as an expression of God’s love to others. In fact, the rest of the chapter tells us that Jesus is the model for us in this area.
Father, how easy it is to look out for what “I want,” and what I think “I need.” Help me to change my focus and allow me to lead with my mind by thinking appropriately about the needs and interests of others. Help me to seek to serve others rather than my selfish interest on a regular basis. May that be my “new normal.”
Following Jesus with you,