“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.” Philippians 2:3–4
To value humility today is to act counterculturally. We’re told by endless advertising campaigns that we’re worth it, and that we should treat ourselves to the things we desire – even if we have to step over others to get them. In the cut-throat world of business, humility can be viewed as weakness. That’s certainly portrayed in Hollywood films as well. But Jesus exemplifies true strength. Though the strongest man in the world, he became the weakest – and in the process turned the wisdom of the world on its head.
Paul wanted the church at Philippi to stop bickering and acting selfishly. Later in the letter (4:2–3) he names two women who had been sparring, pleading with them to stop, for he knew that the infighting was detracting from the mission of the church.
So too with us. I could recount many stories where I put myself first. No doubt my husband could corroborate, and dig out some anecdotes that I forgot. But I take comfort knowing that God is in the business of transformation. When he leads us to value others more than ourselves, we begin to see their needs and discover opportunities to serve. And when we open our eyes and our hearts to those around us, God pours out his blessings on us. He still turns that worldly wisdom upside down.
Lord God, forgive us for putting our own needs first. Help us to rejoice at the success of others. Amen.