Self and Others
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also to the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:4-5)
We are told often enough in God’s word to put others first, but in this passage it talks of putting self first, why? As I thought on this, God gave me a simple but effective answer. If we do not have our interests in order, if our lives do not live up to God’s standard, how then can we begin to help others to walk correctly?
1 Corinthians 10:24 (NIV) says, “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” Here we see this passage flow on from Philippians 2. Now that we have our lives and interest in order according to God’s standard we can now go on to the next step, which is service to others for the good of their welfare. We do not need to look to our own good for any reward or acclaim. In other words when we take our eyes off self and fix them firmly on God then the needs are met for the benefit of both parties.
As we minister according to the word, as we minister with our eyes focused on God then we will be operating just as Jesus did, with His mind set. He said, “I only do what I see My Father do and say what My Father says.”
We see all this come wonderfully together and beautifully explained in John 13:12-17 (NKJ):
So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
There are six points in this passage we need to understand:
1. Jesus explains what He had done.
2. He identifies His high calling.
3. He explains humbly His example; if I can do this to others then so can you.
4. Regardless of social standing, servanthood should have no bounds.
5. You are not too high in the pecking order to be humble, nor are you to low (the proud will be humbled and the humble will be exalted by God).
6. God gives you the enabling to serve and blesses those who do so without hesitation.
The meaning of true servanthood must be understood, that no one must act as if it is beneath his or her dignity to perform the most menial of tasks for others.
Ultimately, servanthood is a disposition of the heart and spirit, which expresses itself in concrete actions.
Charles Swindoll puts the attitude we should have towards others wonderfully when he says, "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude to life and people. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say, or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes."