Bible Reading: Philippians 2:1-8
Philippians 2:3-4, “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 interests of others.”
In 1973, a man named Robert Ringer wrote a book entitled “Winning Through Intimidation.” After the manuscript was rejected 23 times by publishers, he decided to self-publish the book. It became a #1 bestseller and spent 36 weeks on the NY Times bestseller list. In 1977, he self-published another book, “Looking Out for Number One.” That book also became a #1 bestseller and is still considered to be one of the top 15 self-help books of all time. That second book was based on the premise that since man’s inherent nature is to look out for number one, we need to do a better job of looking out for number one. Here’s a quote, “We sometimes lose sight of the fact that our primary objective is really to be happy as possible and that all our other objectives, great and small, are only a means to that end.”
That phrase — “looking out for number one” — has since become a part of our culture’s vernacular. But “looking out for number one” is nothing new to any of us humans. We don’t need a book to tell us to do a better job of it. In sin, selfishness reigns. And since we are all born sinners, we are all born with a natural inclination to put ourselves first.
There is but one example—in the annals of human history—of a man who lived a purely selfless life. And that man is Jesus Christ. What happened when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us? Jesus Christ was the Divine Son of God. He was also a perfect man. He was a man without sin. In Him, there was no sin. He never sinned. He was perfectly submitted to the Father in all that He did. And He lived His life according to the godly character that was innate to His person. And so, what do we see and find in this God-man, Jesus Christ? He became man and took on the form of a bondservant. He lived a life of servanthood. He came into the world with no entourage. He had none of the trappings of royalty. He had no home and no possessions. He came as a servant, and He served others. Purposefully. Relentlessly. Sacrificially. And when He had given all that He had but His own life, He gave that up too. And, as I said, His life is unique in the annals of human history. He never exercised a selfish thought. He never did a selfish thing. He never uttered a selfish word. Instead of looking out for number one, the Divine Son of God came into this world looking out for everyone else.
Now, by the Spirit, you—as a believer in Christ—have come to understand a measure of the beauty of the person of Christ. You previously worshipped at the shrine of self but have since realized that “self” is an unworthy, false god that can never satisfy your deepest longings. Christ alone can do that. You thought, perhaps, that the universe revolved around you, but you came to realize that it is Christ alone who is worthy of such love and devotion. But you nonetheless live in this flesh and are surrounded by worshippers of self. And that’s why this passage is so important. It reminds us of how God has called us, as believers, to a radically different manner of thinking and living—putting the needs of others ahead of your own. A way of thinking and living in Christ that meets with Divine approval. And which proves to be a blessing not only to ourselves but to those around us.
History tells us of how a man named Copernicus studied the sky and came to a startling conclusion regarding the order of things. He said, “If man is to know the truth, he must change his thinking! Despite what we have said for years, our earth is not the center of the cosmos—but just one celestial body among many. The sun does not move around us; we move around the sun.” Years later, someone did a study on children and concluded, “Each child must have his or her own “Copernicus revelation.” Indeed, we are all are in need of such a thing. Empowered by Christ, according to His example, and for His glory!
MAY THE MIND OF CHRIST MY SAVIOR
May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r controlling
All I do and say.
May the word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through his pow’r.
May the peace of God, my Father,
Rule my life in ev’rything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea.
Him exalting, self abasing:
This is victory.
May we run the race before us,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As we onward go.