“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look to only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.”
Paul has just told the Philippians that they have been granted to suffer for Christ’s sake. And yet, in the midst of that, not to forget that they are called to live a life worthy of the gospel. I don’t know about you, but when I suffer I find it hard to focus on anything but that! I’m in survival mode, just trying to get by. Yet here they are being called to think of others first, to get their minds off of themselves, and to think about what other people need.
You see when we are drained, depleted, at our end we feel like we have nothing left to give, and so we don’t. We talk about boundaries, and self care, which can have some truth to them, but sometimes can be used as an excuse for selfishness. I know from experience it is hard to give when I am at the end of my rope, when I don’t think that I will get anything back from the giving.
So how do we think of others when we are suffering an at the end of ourselves? The answer lies in the first verse. Even though they are suffering, Paul reminds them that Christ offers encouragement, comfort, love, the Spirit, and affection.If we are struggling to put others first, it may be that we are not really living out of His love for us. We do need to tap in to that source of love, care, and encouragement to be able to encourage others. But we don’t look for that just from other people. We find our source of love and strength in Jesus!
It’s easy to read these verses and just boil it down to “God loves me so that I can love others.” But let’s press in a bit deeper. Are you actually encouraged by Christ? Do you truly sense comfort and love from Him? Have you felt his affection recently? You may not sense His Spirit’s moving right now, and that’s ok. We might need to re-align our hearts with His word, and ask His Spirit to move in our hearts.
Let’s take time to remind ourselves of gospel truths, and pray that His Spirit whispers His affection and love over us. To remember that we are deeply and intimately loved.
While we were still sinners Christ died for us. Rom 5:8
Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends…I have called you friends Jn 15:13,15
Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Ps 139:1-2
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.