Philippians 2:1-4 (MSG): “If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care–then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Full disclosure: I’m an incredibly selfish person. I have a mental illness that distracts me from my purpose and my calling by instilling in me fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. I’m always thinking about myself, even if it’s negatively!
I think I’m also pretty self-involved in that the direction I want my career to go in would be pretty self-serving. I don’t think God hates ambition and people who have high aspirations, but at what point are my goals contradictory with what God is asking me to do? At what point do I want to earn a higher wage because I can participate more in giving generously or because I would rather have more earthly possessions and comforts? At what point am I doing what God wants me to do, or am I just doing what I want to do?
But let’s bring it back to the verse. Paul is asking us to:
- Agree with each other, love each other, and be deep-spirited friends.
- Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.
- Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
I’ve summarized them into three key points for simplicity.
Agree with each other, love each other, and be deep-spirited friends. This one is painful for me. Right now I’m super politically active because of the current presidential administration, and I get frustrated with those who use their Christianity to deny the rights of others. That’s not what Christianity is about. But Paul is imploring his readers to love each other; be deep-spirited friends. Care about what your friends care about. Invest your time in their lives. Advocate for them in the same way that Jesus advocates for you.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. When you’re concerned with being first, you’re unable to see what’s behind you. Your goals and priorities are focused so much so that you have tunnel vision. Not only that, once you finally get to the top or to the front of the race, you’re the only one there! It’s so depressingly true that it’s lonely at the top.
I also think there’s a bit of distrust in God when you try to push your way to the front and sweet-talk your way to the top. You’re effectively saying, “I don’t care enough about God’s provision and plan for me to wait to find out about it; I’m going to not only try to accomplish the vision before God has set it out for me but I’m also going to do it my own way.” Trust that God not only has a plan for you, but is in front of that plan.
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. I can’t stress this enough, advocate for other people. Find out why they’re struggling, and if you can’t help, advocate for the provision of the resources that will help them. Look for opportunities to help people. If you have privilege, remember those who don’t, and use that privilege to instill justice in their world.
All three of these things call for you to be selfless. Essentially, think about your self less. Selfless –> Self less.
I love C.S. Lewis’s quote:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
No, this does not mean you stop thinking of yourself completely. Just less.
I put in my two weeks’ notice for work and will be heading home October 15. I’m surprisingly very calm about the next steps and my journey home. I understand that I’ll be back in my favorite city with the best people in the world (sorry, San Francisco!) and I’m truly excited for the chapter of rebirth and rebuilding that will happen.
I truly believe that I was not meant to be in the Bay Area and that this wasn’t a fruitful season of my life. However, I’m extremely grateful for my time here.