Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. —Philippians 2:3-4
Look out for number one. Do whatever it takes. Survival of the fittest. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.These words, these thoughts have been swirling around in the mind of man since the beginning of time. It is part of our nature to want to excel, to be on top, to be the best.
By asking his Philippian readers to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,” by asking them to “consider others better than yourselves,” Paul might as well have asked a leopard to take off his spots!
Yet, that is exactly what we are supposed to do. God wants us to take off our selfish, human nature and put on the mind of Christ. He wants us to be more concerned with the good of all than with the good of ourselves. And he wants us to love others enough to let them take the good seats, or let them have the largest piece of fried chicken, or stand in the shadows while they take the spotlight.
This doesn’t mean we should put ourselves down, or hide our talents from others. Rather, we should view our talents as services we provide to others, for the benefit of all and the glory of God.
In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis demonstrated that true humility is apparent when a man designs a beautiful cathedral – the most beautiful in the world – and knows it – and yet, would have been just as delighted if another had designed it. True humility seeks to serve, while selfish ambition seeks to be recognized.
It is interesting that the word strive, to compete, comes from the same root as the word strife, which means bitter conflict or rivalry. Much (if not all) of the strife that happens in our lives stems from our desire to compete, to be number one, to be the most important.
When we layaside our competitive natures, when we gladly step back and allow others to go ahead of us, we begin to understand the mind of Christ. Then, and only then, will we begin to experience the true joy that He has in store for those who long to be like Him.
Dear Father, Please forgive me for my selfish, self-centered ambition. Help me to grasp the concept of true humility, as I seek to serve You and others.