1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
In Philippians chapter 2 Paul gave the Philippians several practical steps to finding joy in their relationships through reduced conflict and increased cooperation. The first step we discovered in reducing conflict was to stop having selfish ambitions and the second is to stop being:
Verse three says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” Conceit is an excessively favorable opinion of one’s own importance. So let me ask you do you like conceited people? If not, why not? Most likely you don’t because they are self-absorbed, and they make life revolve around them because in their world it is all about them. Here Paul is pointing out one of our biggest people problems, pride. Pride affects or we should say infects us all. Pride always does things to promote and points to self. It reveals and revels in its ego while ignoring others. Pride puffs us up till we are so full of self that there is very little room for anyone else, including God. Pride likes to dictate and dominate, as it demands its own way. Pride turns us from servants to self-specialists, where God’s Will becomes replaced by our wants, instead of Christ at the center there is conceit. Proverbs 13:10 tells us that “Arrogance leads to nothing but strife.” We become self-absorbed, arrogant and argumentative. The first cause of conflict is competing ambitions and the second cause of conflict is personal pride. When we have an ego and refuse to admit it, when we are wrong and refuse to recognize it there are bound to be quarrels. What if you could eliminate conceit, how many of our people problems would actually be solve? Being driven by self-ambition and being self-absorbed lead to many a ruined relationship. So let me ask you how self-absorbed are you? Many of us might be tempted to answer not very, but how much room is there in your day for others. You see many of us live out our lives like we drive our vehicles, with very little room or regard for the people on the road around us. We see fellow drivers or pedestrians as irritating idiots because our focus is on how everything affects us. We act like the highway we are driving on was built specially for us, and everyone else is just getting in our way as they get on “our” highway. Instead of communicating delight in God’s creation we communicate displeasure. When the world revolves around you there is very little room for others. Is your character one of conceit or caring? First Paul deals with what we need to stop and next what we need to start. It’s not enough just to remove things from our lives they have to be replaced with:
- Healthy Humility
Paul said “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather, in humility value others above yourselves” There is healthy humility and hurtful humility. C.S. Lewis said that true humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” Today we have trade healthy humility for that which is hurtful. This is not about spending our time putting ourselves down its about lifting others up. Humility is not the act of self-abasement it’s the act of seeing the significance in others. Putting yourself down is actually still a form of pride, because the focus is still on self. Paul is calling us to value people not devalue our person. So how do we lift others up? By treating them better than you would yourself. This is not just a radical concept; it is one that will revolutionize your relationships. It’s the exact opposite of what our culture teaches. We live in a world that is full of people who think they are better than everybody else. We have elevated selfishness to an art form and service to an afterthought. Jesus gives us the picture of humility for He did not look down on us He came down to us. He made the focus serving not self. But today instead of giving the glory to God and recognizing others and rejoicing in His creation we chose to criticize. Paul is calling us to cut out a critical spirit, because when you’re critical you’re thinking that you’re better than other people. Why do we like to criticize and pick out the faults in other people, because it makes us feel superior. We think that we can build ourselves up by putting other people down, but the Bible actually teaches the exact opposite. If you want to decrease the conflict in your life then decrease the criticism and increase healthy humility. Treat others better than you would your-self, this is a call to be people centered not self-centered. Proverbs 29:23 reminds us that “a man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.” Who are you valuing? Conceit will always lead to conflict. How are you responding to people is it with resentment or respect, are you competing or complimenting? The next step to reducing conflict is to replace conceit with:
- Caring Consideration
Verse four says: “not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” Don’t just be interested in what is going on in your life, but be interested in the lives of other people too. The Message Bible says it this way: “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” We will never be considerate of others as long as our primary care is for self. Paul is calling us to look outside of self, to really see what is going on in the lives of those around us. Our word for scope comes from scopos meaning to watch and see, to look. It is interesting to think of all the instruments we use which have the word scope:
Baroscope an instrument showing changes in atmospheric pressure
Bioscope an Instrument for measuring time
Endoscope an instrument for showing the internal organs
Hydroscope a device to view the depths of the sea
Seismoscope an instrument to record occurrence and time of earthquakes
Telescope an instrument for viewing distant objects
Stethoscope an instrument for hearing sounds produced within the body; as, heartbeats and murmurs.
Microscope an instrument to view organisms too small to be seen by the naked eye.
All these instruments were designed to help us see and pay attention to the things in the world around us. So what is the scope of your sight, what do you see? Do you see those who need loved? Do you see those who need comforted? Are you looking out for others or are you so focused on self that you fail to see the needs of those around you? Paul is calling us to care about the lives of those around us, to pay attention to their needs. Are you being considerate or conceited?