“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
“What about me?” This was a statement my wife and I often heard from one of our children when one of them got a gift, but the other did not. Eventually, both of them learned to share with each other and be happy when others, beside themselves, got gifts; but, it was interesting to hear them be consumed with their own self-interest at this early stage of their lives.
However, do some of us struggle with never outgrowing this selfish ambition that seems to begin in childhood and permeates throughout our society? Previously, many of us remember the “Me generation” of the 1960’s and 70’s and the focus on “Looking out for #1”. Man has been struggling with selfish ambition since the Garden of Eden. When Eve told Satan she was not to partake of the forbidden fruit lest she die, Satan appealed to her selfish ambition by saying, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5)." Eve allowed her selfish ambition to lead her astray as she succumbed to this temptation by the devil. Our selfish ambition can cause us to sin against God as we trample over others on our way to the top, place our individual wills above God’s Will, and remove any sense of purpose from our lives as we become consumed with pleasing only ourselves.
In the opening verses above, the apostle Paul describes how the Christian life is lived just the opposite. Instead of doing things out of selfish ambition, we are to set aside our ambitions to serve others. Rather than being conceited and consumed with thinking about ourselves, we are to esteem others and be mindful of them. Our focus is not to just be on “looking out for #1”, but rather looking out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
Paul then gives us the perfect example for us to follow regarding this way of thinking. Jesus led the way and gave us an example to emulate. Paul writes, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). Christ did not look out for Himself, He looked out for us. Jesus was not consumed with His own interests, He was consumed with looking out for His Father’s interest and for our interest (John 4:34; Luke 19:10). So committed to this was He that He went to the cross to endure the penalty for our sins (Isaiah 53:5-6).
God rewarded His Son for His selflessness: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). I do not want to let selfish ambition ruin my life. Today, I will follow Christ example of selflessness and focus on looking out for others in my service to God!
“And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45).