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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Consider the Interests of Others

Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV)
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

I read these words last night before I went to bed. They stayed on my mind throughout today. I thought of all the times I had thought of myself as being humble without realizing that considering myself as humble is not humble at all. True humility is not thinking so little of yourself. It is not thinking of yourself at all.

Considering the interests of others changes my whole attitude. Let's say for example I have made my wife angry. (Since I have made her angry so many times before I can speak with some authority on this subject.) Let's say I am in a committee meeting at church and she needs to get in touch with me. Let's say she has dropped her beeper (only hospitals use beepers) in water and she wants to know what to do. She texts me and I don't answer. She calls me and I ignore the call. Okay, she is angry because she believes the beeper is dying and I am not there to console it. No, she is angry because she knows she needs to do something immediately or the beeper is never going to work again. She needs to know whether she should try to dry it out, open it up or pitch it in the trash. She needs to know right away or the beeper will never work again.
But she can't reach me because I have ignored her.

On her sixth or seventh call, I answer. She expresses her anger. I am not angry but could easily get angry. After all, she dropped the beeper, not me! But I need to consider her side. I ignored her. That is the real problem. My actions proved that the committee meeting was more important than  her. Now, she has a right to be angry. Right?

Sure she does. My interests disappear after I consider hers. Do you think that is what Jesus did?

Jesus is God Himself but did not hold onto His godness. He remained God but did not access all of the attributes of who He was. He was in one place at a time. He limited His knowledge of things. He felt pain, hunger and thirst. He made Himself like one of us. He considered us completely without thinking of Himself.

This ultimate humility meant that He would go to the cross for us. Humility is the surrender of your will to another. Ultimate humility is to sacrifice everything for another. His obedience was to His Father. He humbled Himself to His Father's will. Therefore, He was severely beaten and killed. He did so because He was considering us.

I have always known that God has always known me even before I was. He knew me when His Son was on the cross. I was on His mind when He sent His Son to the cross. Jesus was crucified as God considered me.

He didn't do this just so that I could write a blog about it someday. He did so that I would know Him. He did so that I would be changed by Him. He did so that I would also be humbled and consider others' concerns and needs and be humbled to His obedience in doing what He has called me to do in meeting their needs.

So, I must keep this is mind. Jesus paid much too high a price for me to be emotional about Him but never changed. He wanted me to get beyond emotional religion and get to an intimate relationship. He wanted me to be like Him.

No, I am not there yet.


Anthony Chia said...

Some time in 2009 I wrote a blog entry on this topic on the same scripture text. It was a short entry entitled "More of "O", less of "I", but some readers liked it much; I reproduced it here.

More of “O”, less of “I”
Phil 2:4 NIV: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The word son is spelt as s-O-n whereas the word sin is spelt as s-I-n. Herein lies the attitude that we should all try to have more – think of others more and less of ourselves.

The Son of God, Jesus has the welfare of others in mind when he walked on the earth. Sin, on the other hand, is almost always about “I” – what I want, what I can benefit, how I can be gratified, how I can have the upper hand, how I can be number one, how I can be richer, mightier, stronger, why am I not the leader, the CEO, the President, why am I not the award winner, why must I give in, why must I forgive, why must I share, why must I let go, where is the honour and prestige I am supposed to have, where is the big house and car that I am supposed to enjoy, where is the power that I am supposed to have, to do what I want. “I” also speaks this way, I am rich what, I am smart, I am gifted, I am strong what, I have many supporters, what can they do to me, I can never be caught, nobody will know, what. It may come as a surprise to you, “I” also speaks this way, I am too poor, I am too stupid what, I am too weak, I am not loved, I have no supporter at all, they will all laugh at me, they are all going to eat me up, it is no use and I might as well give up.

So when you make “I” very big, you are going to attract temptations of all kinds of sin – covetousness, love of money, self-centredness, pervertibility, pride, haughtiness, unforgiveness, oppressiveness, wickedness, lawlessness, poor self-image (does not glorify God), sexual immorality, anger and suicide.

One of the practical ways to counter selfishness is given by Hebrew 10:25 –

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Firstly, we must gather often. A Christian is not meant to live alone. Go to church, go to a home cell, gather with other fellow Christians.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above

Secondly, when you gather, consciously, try to replace the “I” with “O” often. It defeats the purpose of gathering, if you are going to emphasize “I” all the times (It is not to say you should not address the struggles that you are having or it is wrong for you to want others to pray or help you. In fact, sometimes and in some struggles you really need others to help you for breakthroughs). Putting on the “O” as in Son means having the heart of Jesus, have the welfare of others at heart and encourage others. Often people go to a gathering/meeting only when they have needs. When their needs had been met or currently they have no needs, they will not go anymore. Or some people would stop going to regular gatherings/meetings because they feel they are not benefiting from the gathering/meetings. At times, this is very sad when such attitude comes from supposedly matured Christians and for regular gatherings/meetings which require help from more mature Christians. If we are indeed more mature, we should ask ourselves whether or not it is time for us to serve and help others, instead of leaving a group because we think we are not benefitting from the group, especially we think more can be done to improve the sessions of the gathering. If you do not need an encouragement in the gathering/meeting, encourage somebody who needs it, since God already has encouraged you by letting you to come to a state of not needing an encouragement. By consciously replacing the “I” with “O”, you keep sin at bay. On the other hand, if you emphasize “I”, temptations of sin come clinging to you, and when you commit sin for more times, you will get more and more dull to holiness, your heart will get more and more hardened.

Can you encourage one another without physical meetings? Yes, but it is much more effective if the people concerned have met before. I know physical gathering takes up more time. But making time for others is, replacing “I” with “O”, so please make time.

(I) Just made time, so that you may be encouraged.
Anthony Chia, high.expressions

PS: Ps Prentis, yours a good entry, too. Such thought provocative pieces are good.