We have an in-built tendency to seek our own interests instead of others. It's called sin! We are happy enough to think about others interests when it doesn't affect us too much. Or we are willing to put ourselves out when we think there will be some sort of return later. Paul's letter to the Philippians instructs the exact opposite. He encourages a counter-cultural attitude when he says in Philippians 2:4, "let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others".
How can I tell if I am seeking my own interests or the interests of others?
- Do I have a high concern for my own comfort or, like Paul, am I viewing whatever happens to me as a way for the gospel to advance? (Philippians 1:12-14)
- Do I feel a sense of rivalry with others or am I rejoicing that the gospel is being preached, even if those doing the preaching don't like me! (1:15-18)
- Am I living my life for something that will end when I die, or am I living my life for Jesus and look forward to being with him eternally (1:21-25)
- Do I see myself as more significant than others, or others more significant than myself? (2:4)
- Do I grumble and complain about most things? (2:14)
- Am I thinking about my own welfare or, like Timothy, genuinely concerned for the welfare of others? (2:19-22)
- Am I concerned about my own safety or, like Epaphroditus, willing to risk my life for the work of Christ? (2:29-30)
- Do I expect my own accomplishments to be impressive to others or God, or do I recognise them as rubbish and depend on Jesus' work instead of my own? (3:4-9)
- Is my mind set on earthly things or do I recognise that I am a citizen of heaven? (3:18-20)
- Am I anxious when things seem out of control, or do I pray and trust God (4:6-7)
- Do I think that getting something or achieving something will bring me contentment or have I learned to be content in any situation? (4:11-13)
- Am I generous with my money or do I give to support the needs of others? (4:15-17)
We probably don't do to well on this list. What's the answer? Look at Jesus. He was the one person who truly did not seek his own interests, but he gave everything up for us. He "made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (2:5-11)". No matter how concerned we are with our own interests, we can't fix ourselves. Jesus took care of our needs, freeing us to think about the needs of others.