Philippians 2:3-5 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (NKJV)
Unity is the duty, command, and privilege of Christ’s followers. Godly unity is unity based in Truth (God’s Truth, i.e. Scripture). Not unity for the sake of unity but unity measured by God’s revealed Word.
How is unity achieved?
Primarily through humility. Humility is the subordination of ME to the higher priority of God’s glory and will. Jesus, of course, is our greatest example of humility. Let’s take a practical look at how unity via humility is accomplished.
- Let nothing be done … it is important to remember that when God uses all-encompassing words (all, every, none, etc.), it is not an exaggeration like we are often guilty of: “I never do that”; “I’m always kind.” All-encompassing words rarely are accurate when humans use them (unless they are repeating something God said). When Paul says “let NOTHING be done” that’s exactly what he means.
- … through selfish ambition or conceit…
- selfish ambition: pride that motivates a person to want and seek and strive for their own way; working towards their own agenda or desires which causes strife, division, factions, and discord.
- conceit: personal glory which is empty and worthless because the only true glory is God’s glory; any time we are “conceited” we are seeking to enhance, illuminate, or focus on OUR personal glory: “look at me” not Christ.
- … but in lowliness of mind … contrary to our “self-esteem” and “self-love” culture, lowliness of mind is not false humility or a “sad sack” mentality; it is the right perspective and understanding of our weakness, frailty, and need to be rescued by God. Lowliness of mind is the essence of humility, the correct understanding of our sin-cursed selves.
- … let each esteem others better than himself … “lowliness of mind” is one side of the coin; the flip side is esteeming OTHERS better than ME. It is the ability to see other peoples’ needs, to prefer other peoples’ wishes, to elevate the welfare of those around us over ourselves. Does that lead to our total neglect? Exactly the opposite. You reap what you sow. The more you serve, prefer, elevate, and honor others, the more blessing it is to you in various forms – both temporal and eternal.
- … Let each of you look out not only for his own interests … Is there a person alive who does not look out primarily for their own needs? Even in our pop-psychology-confused culture, those who proclaim “self hatred” are focused on who? Most people do not stop and realize that 99% of our time is spent directly and indirectly doing WHAT? Looking out for or thinking about ol’ #1. Me. We do not have to put forth any effort to look out for our own interests. We need to be constantly reminded and encouraged to look out for the interests of others.
- … but also for the interests of others … what interests? Spiritual, physical, emotional. We not only say “go in peace, the Lord be with you” but we give thirsty people a cup of water, hungry people a slice of bread, cold people a coat, sad people a hug and prayer, achieving people a hand clap, a helping hand to those who need help, and struggling people a listening ear. We don’t just SEE the interests of others, but act on them.