By Alistair Begg
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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
Misplaced words and unkind glances have great potential to cause division. We all know how easy it is for friendships to be torn apart through such seemingly minor offenses. But if we trace the problem to its root, we’ll discover that at the center of our disunity is the ugliness of pride and the exaltation of self. How easily we say, “If she thinks I’m going to apologize, she’s got to be crazy! If he wants me to say I’m sorry, he’s going to have to do something first. I didn’t start it; therefore, I don’t need to end it.”
When Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, he was concerned about their attitudes. He wanted to make sure that they would have harmonious relationships and tender hearts toward one another. It was important for them as a church family to enjoy unity of heart, mind, and purpose, particularly as they came under pressure from their culture to renounce Christ or compromise on their obedience to Him.
In seeking to instill a spirit of unity among these Philippian believers, Paul didn’t give them something like “seven principles on establishing unity.” Rather, he pointed them to the element that is foundational to all harmonious relationships: humility. And what better way to illustrate true humility than to turn their gaze to the Lord Jesus Christ! Paul knew that if only they would consider Jesus, they would see that His humble attitude was the very example and pattern that needed to pervade their minds and their relationships.
Within the church, our prayer should be that people will look at our relationships and say, “There is such a sense of unity and harmony among these people! It seems that they are all for Christ and that they are all for one another. There is a Christlike attitude about them. I wonder how they came to be that way?”
We don’t muster up humility from our own resources; we depend upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to be humble as He conforms us to the image of Christ. Read Paul’s words to the Philippians and take them to heart, fixing your eyes on your Savior. Reflect on the selfless incarnation and obedient death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and all your selfishness and pride will begin to look so dreadfully ugly. You cannot think about Jesus and simultaneously excuse your self-centeredness. So, look at Christ! There die all your selfish aspirations.