“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” —Philippians 2:4
Every once in a while, as I read the Bible, I come across a sentence that seems to capture so much more than it should be possible to contain in one sentence. This verse from the apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in the Roman colony of Philippi says so much about the Christian way of life, and says it so simply.
At the heart of the Jesus way of being human is putting others ahead of one’s self. Jesus teaches us—and showed us—that the counterintuitive fact is that the way to find one’s life is to be willing to give it up for others. The way to become great is to focus on building others us.
And this is not just some kind of timeless wisdom. This is an ethic rooted in Jesus’ own life and death. Paul goes on to tell the Philippian Christians to have the same mindset in their relationships with one another that Jesus did (Philippians 2:5). And Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing…becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). This is our model for how to be truly human in relation to others.
And isn’t it a beautiful picture? Don’t you want to live in a world in which you don’t need to worry about your own interests because you know your fellow children of God have your interests in mind? I know I want to live in that world. We can start today, by looking to others’ interests first, knowing that, even if no one else does, God always has our well-being in mind.