Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Increasingly today, we unashamedly pursue our own means for our own ends. It is a temptation for which everyone contends. ‘We’ do not want to listen to others because ‘we’ are right and ‘they’ are not. ‘We’ are reasonable, but ‘they’ are unreasonable. ‘We’ know better than ‘they’ do.
Translate these into the singular and you will see yourself having done and doing the same. It is the plight of American individualism, and shows its egotistical head at many a corner.
We are conceived into such a state that we define life to be all about ‘me’ and what ‘I’ want (Psalm 51:5). What someone else says, independent of their position, does not matter. What matters are ‘my’ wants, ‘my’ needs, ‘me, me, me.’
Yet in Christ, God demonstrates something other than individualism, self-centeredness, and self-absorption. In Christ, God demonstrates love for another, love for the sinner, love for the selfish, love for the very people who think themselves to be the center of the universe—love for you.
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)
In Christ, God demonstrates a love for you without condition, a love without partiality, a love unmerited and undeserved.
This is how God works, not thinking of Himself, but loving the unloved, the unlovable, and the unloving, because “God IS Love” (1 John 4:8, 16; John 3:16).
The one who believes that God is this way towards him does not remain selfish and self-absorbed, for such is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is to give, and to put others before oneself. The way of Christ is not to ignore God’s Word because of personal needs and to put oneself above all others, but to “deny oneself,” bear the cross, and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). The way of Christ is to repent of selfish idolatry and to live in service of those in need. The way of Christ is to conform to the will of Christ, to cast aside “self-ambition and conceit,” to seek the “interests of others,” and to pursue my neighbor’s well-being.
“The New Testament has a great deal to say about ‘the people of Christ, the ‘we.’ But ‘we’ often overlook what Scripture says because we are thinking ‘I.’ Good old American individualism is alive and well in the Church, and it determines how we read the Bible. American religiosity is all about ‘me.’” (Harrison, Christ Have Mercy, 115)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for my selfishness, for neglecting the needs of others, and for putting myself first, even before You and Your Holy Word. Change my heart that I deny my own wants and desires and seek to do what pleases You, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.