Philippians 2:3 "What's the Value?" (Pride & Humility - Week 2)
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (ESV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves (NIV)
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. (NLT)
I have a vivid memory of creating a Christmas list that I believed would top all others. I was convinced that if I received every item on it, I would be set. I even reassured my parents, "Mom and Dad, you don't need to worry about gifts for the next few years because this list has it all." My requests weren’t even extravagant. Nonetheless, I invested significant time and thought into determining what I truly desired, imagining the complete satisfaction they would bring me. On Christmas morning, I unwrapped my presents and discovered that I had actually received everything I had asked for. It was all right there before my eyes. “What more could I possibly want?” I thought. Yet, a few hours later, as I brought my gifts to my room and arranged them meticulously to admire my new possessions, an inexplicable emptiness crept into my chest. It was a feeling of insufficiency. Moreover, the realization of emptiness grew even more, when I returned to school and overheard my friends bragging about their gifts, which seemed even better than my own. It became apparent that there were still numerous things I desired, despite convincing myself that my list would be enough. “Maybe next year, I’ll get it right.”
From Selfishness To Humility
To act selfishly is to act for one’s gain by placing your interests ahead of everything else. To say I was acting selfishly in this example would be an understatement. I was so preoccupied with my satisfaction that I wasn't even able to enjoy my family. Watching them receive gifts or the day of Christmas as a whole! In other words, selfishness blocks us from valuing others in our lives or celebrating sweet moments. Hopefully, you too, as you’ve grown up, have been able to notice the selfishness that lies in your own heart, and began to fight for freedom in selflessness.
For those lost without Christ, selfishness will always be the natural tendency. If Christ isn’t the aim, self-preservation and pleasure-seeking, seem to always take the front seat. But for those who are in Christ, we have something greater to live for. The temporary pleasures found in this world aren’t all that we hope for. We have a newfound belonging in God’s grace and an inheritance to His kingdom.
So what is the fruit of this newfound freedom? Humility.
Right now I am sure you’re asking, “Really? Humility is freedom? Humility seems more like an antonym for freedom! Freedom is being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.” This seems to be the front-page message of our culture. Open up Instagram and check how ads are marketing to you. Turn on the radio and you hear Ariana Grande sing, “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it,”. This is the air we breathe and without intentionally grabbing hold of the freedom found in Christ we will be enslaved by our own desires.
How do we define humility though? The answer is found in living sacrificially for God and others. To go deeper, I want to share one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis in his famous book Mere Christianity, which says, “If we were to meet a truly humble person, we would never come away from meeting them thinking they were humble. They would not be always telling us they were a nobody (because a person who keeps saying they are a nobody is actually a self-obsessed person). The thing we would remember from meeting a truly gospel-humble person is how much they seemed to be totally interested in us. Because the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
For the Sake of Others
Whether you drift toward thinking too high or too low of yourself, Philippians 2:3 reminds us to value others above ourselves and to embrace the virtue of humility. It’s a mindset that rejects self-importance and the idolization of oneself and instead recognizes God as the utmost importance and others as the second most important.
When we lay our lives down for others, we begin to experience the life God is calling us to. It may be hard for a moment but eventually will leave you experiencing life-giving joy and belonging. This is the very model given to us by Christ. Read the verses that follow Philippians 2:3, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross,”
Jesus, the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), took the form of a servant to save “the least of these”. He became a servant and shows us that although humility starts in you, it will soon begin to change everything around you. Humility is found in surrendering our natural wants and desires, allowing them to be reshaped by Christ, into joy in His presence and humble service of others. The lasting joy resulting from humility is far greater than any temporary pleasure from getting all we think we want.