By James Metsger
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)
When Melissa and I were married nearly twenty years ago, Philippians 2:1-4 was part of our wedding vows. Not exactly traditional, but we considered it the “something new” part of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” deal. Looking back, we were probably a bit naïve to the importance of this admonition from Paul, but those words prepared us for what was to come.
“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
Pretty solid advice for two young pups out of college. Being of the same mind was easier when there was only one mind involved. With only one mind involved, I often found myself agreeing with myself. When another human being (i.e. Melissa) entered my one-man world, one mind and one love became trickier.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Easier said than done. It was easy for me to say, “I wish,” but it was much more difficult to say to Melissa, “As you wish.” Yet, this is Paul’s call to the church. In humility consider others more significant than yourself.
When I view my wife’s wants, desires, and needs as more significant than my own, I’m dying to my desires. I understand this isn’t a one-way street, but Paul didn’t leave us an off ramp on this road. There’s nothing tacked on at the end of the command that nullifies it if the same selfless love is not being given to you. When I’m honest, this is a street I have a hard time driving on. It’s hard for me to get out of my own way and count someone else as more significant than me because I tend to think I’m pretty significant.
Paul provides some hope for the hesitant. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.” At some level we all look to our own interest. It’s natural and not always wrong. But your wants and desires should not be a full course meal fed to the “me monster” inside of you. God has given us wants and desires, but we’re not to only look to our own interests. We’re to consider how we can show the same level of concern for others that we have for ourselves.
Twenty years ago I said, “I do.” Today I’m still reciting those vows. I pledge to:
Be of the same mind and in full accord. I do.
Have the same love. I do.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit. I do.
Count others more significant than myself. I do.
Look to the interest of others. I do.
Who has God placed in your life whom you can sacrificially serve?
How are you currently sacrificially serving that person?