Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
but with humility of mind
regard one another as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4 NASB
A fresh coat of snow had fallen during the night leaving behind a chill in the air. I left the apartment early to clean off my car and let it warm up before heading off to work. I threw my bag and lunch box on the passenger seat and reached in to start the car.
Click, click, click.
Click, click, click.
I had feared this day since moving out on my own. The day when I would come out and find my battery dead or my tire flat.
No matter how many times I try the engine refuses to turn over. It wasn’t unexpected. Over the past week there had been signs that the battery was going. I had planned to have it checked out during my lunch hour today. However it could not hold out that long. I called my supervisor to let her know my car wouldn’t start and I would be late.
Having no jumper cables of my own I tried to get in touch with my landlady who was still home. No luck. So I did what any single adult woman living on her own would do.
I called my dad.
He came over, we got the car running, I stopped at AutoZone for a new battery, and made it to work only 30 minutes late.
For lunch, I went to McDonalds—despite the fact that I am trying to eat healthy and lose weight. I had a hard morning. I deserved it.
I deserved it.
Sometimes the biggest lie you can tell ourselves is ‘I deserve it.’
I deserve a drink.
I deserve to have a little fun.
I deserve to buy myself a new outfit.
I deserve the biggest and best television.
I live on Long Island, a place full of entitled people. In general they feel that they have a right to be catered to, that their needs are more important than the needs of those around them. If they don’t get their way or if their needs aren’t met they can become irritable or at the worst, rageful.
This is a dangerous mentality. It can start out small and innocent but if left unchecked it will grow. You will become more and more entitled. Entitlement has no place in a Christ Follower’s life. It does not correspond with what we know of Christ and His teachings.
If there is anyone in history that had the right to be entitled it was Jesus. After all, He was the Son of God. If that didn’t give him the right to certain privileges I don’t know what would. He did not take advantage of it. He was humble. He literally put the needs of the world before his own needs. He put the will of the Father before his own desire.
Paul writes to the Philippians that we should do nothing from selfishness. Nothing. That’s a tall order. All day long we think about ourselves: what are we going to wear, what are we going to eat, what are we going to do, etc. Is it really possible to do everything selflessly?
If you look a little deeper into what Paul is saying it becomes clearer.
According to Strong’s concordance the Greek term Paul uses is eritheia. It carries with it the sense of self-promotion. Put that together with kenodoxia (empty conceit) and what Paul is talking about is personal glory. We are to do nothing that shines the light on ourselves.
In 1 Corinthians Paul writes:
Whether, then, you eat or drink
or whatever you do so all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
All that we do is supposed to put the spotlight on God. Thinking about your own needs is not wrong, as further evidenced in Philippians, but they are not to be our sole concern. We should not look out just for ourselves but also for others. Like Jesus, we are to be humble and put the needs of others before our own.
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