Saturday, January 16, 2016

Others Above Self

“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 (Phil 2:3-4, New International Version [NIV])”

I'm struggling tonight. I'd say I'm “on the struggle bus,” but that's not necessarily kind to the real people who ride special busses. I'm struggling because I want to be selfish, because I want to care about myself more than others. I want to make this verse say that I value myself and others, but it says to “value others above [myself] (Phil 2:3). The Message [MSG] translation reads, “Put yourself aside and help others get ahead” (Phil 2:3-4) I can do that in the counseling room, but not in real life.

In real life, I feel like I'm constantly trying to survive, constantly fighting to be calm and even-tempered, and I think I have to be selfish to do it. “I have to protect myself,” I say. “I have to practice self-care.” Yes, and Yes. These verses do not say to abase myself, but to value others more than myself, so I have to value myself some. Self-care does lead to others-care. But selfishness does not lead to the kind of selflessness God desires. It does not lead to the kind of sacrifice that creates unity in the church and in the body of God (Guzik). Selfishness puts me first when I need to put God first.

Oh, how I want to be my best advocate, my greatest cheerleader, but that's not my calling. I am “chosen” in Christ to be His servant, His vehicle for showing His love to the world (Eph 1:11). Serving in that role means putting myself aside, trusting in God to take care of me instead of trusting only myself. It means looking for excellence in others, rather than tooting my own horn (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown). It means laying aside my passions and ambitions for God's, trying to see the best in others and help them achieve their God-given potentials. But even in this, I can be selfish. I can put others ahead and try to tag-along behind them. That's not what the verse says. Look not “to your own interests,” it says (Phil 2:4). Oh, have I got a lot of learning and loving to do! Help me, Jesus.


Guzik, D. (2006). Humble living in light of Jesus' humble example. In Study Guide for Philippians 2. Retrieved from

Fausett, A. R. (n. d.) The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians. In Commentary on Philippians 2. Retrieved from 

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