It is so easy to be selfish. My grandfather always used to say, “If you are more concerned about how someone would react to the message of the Gospel more than their eternal salvation, you need to get the focus off yourself and put it back on God.” I think my grandfather was right – right about a lot of things – but especially this. We seem to have no problem sharing the Gospel with people across the world in countries we will only visit for a short period of time. When we come home however, we seem to hide our faith from those we know well. I think my grandfather’s words are valuable. The reason I share this is because his words seem to fall in line with Paul’s.
“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, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”
Other people’s interests should be worthy of our interests. There should be a balance.
We are given this mind through Christ.
Jesus was in the form of God.
We can’t grasp God in His form.
As I have already stated, it is so easy to think about our own interests. We do it everyday. We are naturally selfish and need to learn to care about other people. No one cares about others before themselves automatically. Even when we are born, we grow up selfish. We need people to do everything for us. Think about babies. They cry when they need to be burped, when they need to be changed, when they are hungry – the list goes on. When children move from babies to toddlers, one phrase that seems to be universal is “mine!” You could be playing with a truck on the other side of the room and the toddler will come over, grab your toy and say, “Mine!” Paul is reminding us that it is our natural tendency to be selfish but to care about others just as much as we care about ourselves. There needs to be a worthy balance of how much we look out for ourselves and now much we look out for others.
What is amazing to me is that God gives us the ability to care about others as much as we care about ourselves. He knows it is difficult. He gives us a mind though to make positive decisions to care about others. We do not always need to care about ourselves. Sometimes, we will be put in situations where we have to care about others 100 percent and ourselves 0. That happens sometimes. With the mind of Christ, we are able to make those decisions with joy. It isn’t always easy but we have been given that mind to think that way. We simply need to choose the right mind to have. Thank goodness for God’s grace and mercy.
Before Christ came to earth, God was in the form of God. That might not be too deep or seem significant, but it is. God’s form is not our form. He is distinct from anything and everything we have ever seen. His shape is unknown. So, when Paul states, “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” we need to understand that we are unable to understand God’s form. We would not be able to touch God in His Godly form. We would not be able to look at God in His Godly form. We would die. Our imperfections, because of sin, would cause us to die – literally. The only way for us to know God then would be for God to do something significantly radical. Tomorrow, we will see what radical thing Jesus does so that we are able to grasp Jesus – at least in some small degree.
The reason I picked the book of Philippians to study this way is because it has always been a challenge for me to read some of the statements Philippians shares. I have never memorized a whole book of the Bible before, but I think if I were to try, I would attempt Philippians because so much of this is familiar to my upbringing and yet continually challenges me to live a life worthy of the Gospel. I am learning, and I hope we are learning together. Please feel free to share any thoughts you might have. Remember: A friend’s salvation is more important than their initial reaction to the message of Jesus. Share and pray often. Let your life live out what you share and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. God bless.