Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)
Read: Philippians 2:1-11
Consider: Society at large tells us that we need to think of our own needs before thinking of others. The Bible turns this on its head, asking those who believe to put others before themselves. The Biblical pattern is God first, others second, ourselves last. Despite this, there are some who teach that a person must learn to love themselves before they can really love God and other people. However, when a Pharisee questioned Jesus as to what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 22:36-39). Notice the order: Love God first, love others second. God wants us to love him with every part of our being and our love for others should be a natural expression of our commitment to God.
What is our motivation for putting others before ourselves? In John’s first letter we read: We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). God pours out his love on us and forgives us for our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. At conversion we have become a new creation and our life has now become focussed on God, instead of ourselves Our love for others cannot be generated by an act of will on our part; it comes about because of our love for God.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians Paul said: Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). There can be no limit on how we are to love others. Love is not a resource that dries up if we give too much away. Even if we were to express self-less love for others 24 hours a day, seven days a week, month after month, year after year, we will never exhaust the love that we are capable of expressing. Why? Because our love is not based on our capacity to love others, but on God’s capacity to love us. It is limitless!
When Jesus sent the twelve disciples out to proclaim the good news to the people of Israel, he told them to give generously of themselves. He was not thinking of money, but what they could do because they had been given authority to do so. In Matthew we read: As you go, proclaim this message: “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give (Matthew 10:7-8).
Pray: Father, we thank you that your love for us is limitless, yet we often limit our love for others because it costs us time or resources. May we fully appreciate what Jesus meant when he said: ‘Freely you have received; freely give’. Amen