Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4
We are all hard-wired egoists. That is we are all born with an innate propensity to look to our own self-interests above all else. That’s just how we are in our natural state, so when Paul writes to the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit,” he is instructing them to do something which is not natural.
Paul is able to make such an outrageous command because he is writing to those who have crucified their sinful nature, their natural egoism, and have been born into new life in Christ. Paul’s words are, therefore, as much a description as they are an instruction. Those who pattern their life after Christ Jesus will be neither arrogant nor demanding of their own way. Instead, “in humility” they will consider “the interests of others,” that is they will count others as worthy of their care and attention.
Paul is writing to anchor the Philippians in faith and to remind them of the Christ-like posture of disciples both in times of ease and in days of difficulty. Of course, even persons of great faith need coaching. We all need to be reminded “not to think more highly of (ourselves) than (we) ought” (Romans 12:3). When our natural tendencies rise up, we depend both on the grace of God and on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be Christ-like in motive and deed. It’s not easy. It’s not even natural. By the grace of God, it’s supernatural.
Lord, I confess that I am a sinner by nature and by choice, and I am daily dependent on your grace and power to raise me above my self-serving ways. Amen.
A Bible-study devotional blog by Gorman Houston.