Read Philippians 2:1-5
Yesterday we saw how Paul’s main desire is that the Philippian church would make his joy complete and he wants this to manifest itself in four particular ways. We saw the first way yesterday in that our attitude should be loving and unified.
Secondly, Paul addresses our ambition. In verse 2, he tells us to do nothing from rivalry or conceit. When Paul says “do nothing” it is a double negative in the original language which carries the idea of “no not ever, ever” do anything out of rivalry or conceit.
Other translations use the word “selfish ambition”. In other words don’t ever do anything out of a greedy heart that is sinfully self-centered.
In the dark comedy from the 80’s “Wall Street” with Michael Douglas, his character Gordon Gecko gives the infamous speech about greed. He says, “Greed — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”
Unfortunately this type of attitude can become very prevalent even among Christians
Read Galatians 5:26
The word for “conceit” really means “empty glory”. In attempt to try to greedily elevate ourselves, we are bringing glory to ourselves instead of God and this is an “empty glory”. We are not glorifying or exalting Christ, but instead, are glorifying and exalting ourselves which is the exact opposite of Christ-like humility.
So Paul challenges us to make his joy complete by 1. Having the same attitude 2. Not having selfish ambition and now 3. He exhorts us to humility in the second half of verse 3.
In humility we are consider or count others as more significant than ourselves. In our culture and in that day, humility was not elevated. It was seen as a sign of weakness.
When Paul uses he word “count” others it means to “give attention to, concentrate on others”. Our focus should not be on ourselves but on others. He tells us to given attention to others as more significant than us. This word means, “surpassing”. In other words, live in such a way that others supersede us as we serve them in humility.
According to a February 2007 AP article, today’s college students are the most self-absorbed, narcissistic generation in the history of America. Four prominent psychologists examined the responses of 16,475 college students nationwide who completed an evaluation called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1982 and 2006.
The standardized inventory, known as the NPI, asks for responses to such statements as “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place,” “I think I am a special person” and “I can live my life any way I want to.”
These psychologists worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society. We need to stop endlessly repeating ‘You’re special’ and having children repeat that back,” said the study’s lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. “Kids are self-centered enough already.”
The fourth way that Paul wants us to make our joy complete is in our focus. In verse 4, he tells us look out for the interests of others. To be other’s focused. The word to “look out” literally means to “keep a sharp eye upon.” We are to be intently looking at the needs of others instead of ourselves.
So for review, what are the four main ways that we can make Paul’s joy complete?
- We can have the same attitude
- We can not be selfish and ambitious
- We can be humble in lowering ourselves
- We can look out for the needs of others.
Which one of these four do you struggle with the most? Ask God to give you the grace to practice these consistently in your life and in the life of our church family.
Father in heaven,
You’ve called us to live in unity and humility. I want to have the same mind and purpose as my fellow believers. I don’t want to be selfish and greedy and bring glory to myself, which is an empty glory. I want to humbly serve others. I want to consider others better than myself. I want to look out for the needs of others. Please produce this fruit within me by the power of your Spirit.