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)
During this lockdown phase, we had plenty of opportunities to contemplate what it is that gives our lives meaning. We were rudely reminded that it was not our status, possessions or job titles. It is so sad that we spend so much time climbing the ladder of success, only to find our ladder leaning against the wrong wall in difficult times. One of the false foundations of success is focusing too much on ourselves. It begins from a very young age: the terrible twos. One finds that one is a unique person, separate from other people. One discovers individual will and desires. And it naturally comes to us to be selfish – I want everything that I want when I want it. But that usually sparks conflict. With limited resources, what I desire usually belongs to someone else. So a very important part of growing up is learning to control desires and needs. We need to learn to share. Adulthood happens when I begin to put other people’s needs before my own. When I start following Jesus’ example in John 13, figuratively speaking, by washing other people’s feet. When I serve others, my own life will be much more content. But what about my own interests? Well, the Lord usually makes us part of a family, and a faith community. In a healthy network, others put your interests first. It is a win-win scenario: serve others and you will also be satisfied.
The second thing that Paul addresses is our need to feel important – “vain conceit”. We love to be seen as successful, doing better than others. But to try and be the best at the cost of others will also ruin relationships. The solution to this problem is the fruit of the Spirit of humility. That does not mean I am everybody’s doormat. It does not require me to think less of myself. The secret is to be content with who I am in the Lord, and using my gifts and time to help others. Then everybody wins. When the tide rises, all the ships in the harbour rise with it. When you serve others, you make the world a better place. And you will rise with it. You will be blessed.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you came to earth to serve others. Through your ministry, the world became a better place. You have shown us the importance of serving: by washing your disciples’ feet. Teach me to follow your example and show me every opportunity where I may be a blessing to others. I trust that you will also take care of my needs. Amen