Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
— Philippians 2:3
I think that this, in conjunction of what we talked about in BBS this past Friday, is a very startling and diametrically opposed attitude and value set in terms of what we’re used to seeing. We’re used to seeing something of this sort:
Help someone if you have time left over, if you’ve got nothing better to do.
Compare this to what we talked about in BBS about Paul’s values (“If I don’t see you in heaven, then all my efforts will have been for nothing”) while Jesus made the ultimate example of humility when He, God, came to earth as a human, and not just a human, but a human servant in order to save us — in other words, not for self.
So anyhow, I just wanted to bring up that we should be more like this.
New Attitude, New Priorities
This brings me to ask: What sort of things can we do to reflect this change of attitude and priorities? What shall we do with our studying habits?
Note About Considering Others and Self
The passage does not say necessarily not to think of ourselves at all but simply to think of others, with others more important to us than ourselves (Phl. 2:3). Indeed this is the following verse:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phl. 2:4, ESV; emphasis added: NASB uses “do not merely … but also” as the logical operators)
Note also that to consider yourself is not in itself a self-seeking attitude. We had a discussion in Bible Study and the earlier part of the verse: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit” (2:3) really says it all.
An extreme example of schoolwork would be studying an extra 12 hours so that you can set the curve, versus studying 4 hours before the exam so you won’t fail, since to completely neglect your studies (and fail out) is to say to God, “I think you made a mistake in sending me to ______ school.”
What sorts of things should we be doing differently if we truly value others over ourselves?
Yesterday I tried a little experiment. My friend asked for wisdom to share the gospel with an old friend over a dinner arrangement. He brought it up during prayer meeting and while he was praying, I had the idea of calling him up on his way to dinner and praying with him, preparing him so that he would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit throughout the dinner. He went on BART, so that wasn’t possible. So instead of set my alarm to ring when the dinner arrangement would likely begin.
When the time came, wherever I was, I spent some time praying for him and for guidance and for protection. Some other coincidences happened as well, so I ended up calling him afterwards to see how it went.
We Need More
In closing, I think it was a worthwhile exercise in less of me and more of Him. But let us not stop with simply a thought experiment, or even isolated experiences. Instead,
[Let us] not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s]. Then [we] will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:2)