Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
Do you ever wonder if you are a self-centered person? Do you ever ask yourself if you are really interested in other people’s lives and truly want to help them, or make them happy?
These questions and this verse can really make us search our hearts. I like to think that I am a loving and caring wife, mother, grandmother, daughter-in-law, sister, friend, and neighbor. I am more than willing to do anything they ask of me, or what I feel they need me to do. And if you asked my kids, they would probably tell you that I am even a “little” annoying because they don’t want the offers of my help as much as I give them! I try to explain that I am doing so out of love and concern for them, and they explain how they don’t want me doing things for the same reason. I do really try to always show my concern, offer encouragement, and express my affection and love. I want the people in my life to know what they mean to me.
But what about those beyond the people I know and care about? I try to be mindful of what others are going through and share the blessings I have been given. I have done volunteer work in our church and community, and we sponsor a child in Ghana through Compassion Ministries. But other than these small gestures and helping my close circle of family, friends, and church family, do I really care about the needs of others? And if so, do I show it? Or am I just so self-absorbed in my own little world that I can’t even see beyond it? What a humbling thought and one that shames me to think about.
This verse is a good reminder that we as Christians have certain responsibilities beyond ourselves and our families. Paul is writing to the new believers in the church of Philippi and he gives them this message, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ, and you should be humble in love, spirit, and purpose.” (paraphrased from verses preceding this one). “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
God wants us, He commands us, to demonstrate a sincere interest in the happiness and well-being of others. He wants us to break beyond that narrow spirit of selfishness that we may possess and show kindness, love and benevolence, in whatever form is needed, to others. And one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is to pray for them. If we see or hear of someone suffering for whatever reason, or if they are going through a difficult time, even if we don’t know their names, we can lift them up in prayer to a God who does know, and who knows exactly what they need.
What a good reminder that we need to expand our “small circle” and reach out to others with kindness and grace.
Dear God, help us not to be so self-absorbed with our own lives that we fail to see those around us who might need our compassionate “interest” in their lives. Help us to share your love and grace with others. Amen