William Carey, pioneer missionary to India, said: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” The key phrase in the second half of this saying is “for God.” Sometimes our spiritual ambitions are more focused on ourselves than on God. In the previous chapter (see Feb. 4), Paul warned that some who preached Christ were motivated by envy and rivalry (Phil. 1:15). In today’s passage, Paul describes a better way: we are to value others above ourselves (2:3).
This does not mean that we should think poorly of ourselves. Instead, we are to show others the kind of loving concern that Jesus Christ demonstrated toward us. In verse 1, Paul lists four motivations for doing this: 1) encouragement that springs from our union with Christ, 2) the comfort of His love, 3) our mutual experience of the Spirit, and 4) affection and sympathy for one another that is an extension of Christ’s love for us.
Paul’s emphasis on our shared experience of Christ indicates that his focus is on relationships in the church. The command to value others above ourselves certainly has implications for our treatment of those outside the church. But if we cannot show love to other believers, it is unlikely that we will do so for unbelievers. Paul calls this humility: the discipline of cultivating an interest in others (v. 4). The daily practice of humility begins with small things. Ask others to share about themselves. Invite them to go first. Let them have the last word. Pray for others as well as for yourself.
>> “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man, he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody,” C. S. Lewis observed. “Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.”
Humility is rooted in our love for You and for others. Increase our love for You and help us express that love to one another. Grant us humility that nurtures sincere concern for those around us.