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Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
In verse four, Paul restates this important directive – OTHERS. The teaching of Paul here in these few short verses emphasizes our need for the humble mind (he will go on to explain the mind of Christ shortly) and the importance of others. It is the Christian faith that has elevated the word others to such importance. When we seek to lift up ourselves – we lose the full importance of how to have Christian unity. Why did Christ come from heaven’s glory to this earth? Others! Why should we seek to carry the gospel to those who have not heard? Others! Jesus said in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his soul as a ransom for many.”
“It was this mind, care, for others that brought Jesus down from heaven for man’s redemption, a mind and disposition that should be held by each follower and professor of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 8:9; Phil 2:5).”
Jesus lived his earthly days with a humble spirit, and he taught that we should demonstrate humility as well. In God’s eyes, those who become like little children are honored (Matt. 18:4); the one who wants to be first must take last place (Mark 9:35); and servanthood is a mark of prominence (Matt. 23:11). With his teachings, our Savior turned the world’s definition of greatness upside down. In heaven, meekness is an attribute of honor.
As we recognize that we can do nothing of value apart from the Lord, we will have started on the road to meekness. When we lay down all our plans and instead accept God’s, we will be leaving our pride behind. If we are misunderstood or treated unfairly but stay where we are until the Lord tells us to speak or move, then we will have begun to live the humble life that pleases our Savior. It is others that challenges us to think of them over ourselves, and that is the start of having the mind of Christ.
More in-depth Insights
Everyone should look out not only for his own interests. In short, we are not to be selfish. We should not be so self-involved, focusing only on our own concerns. This would also include being only concerned about our own family. We need to express interest and heartfelt compassion in the welfare and happiness of the whole body of Christians. This does not mean that we overly interfere in the business of others or that we neglect our family for the sake of others. (Cf. 2 Thess. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:15) Nevertheless, we are all accountable for the right balance of taking care of the welfare of others.
But also for the interests of others. Every Christian must do what they can within their power, and no Christian is free to focus on themselves and their family alone while ignoring the needs of others. The objective of Paul’s words here is to get the Christian community to set aside selfish interests and to have generous compassion, carrying regard for the wellbeing of others. The following should be considered in light of Pau’s words.
- We are not to be a gossiping, meddling, or prying people. Everyone has a right to direct their lives how they see fit, worldview, and objectives. Of course, if any of that is counter to and in opposition to the Bible, then the pastor and the church leadership have every right to involve themselves, to the point of expulsion if need be.
- We are not to impose views on others that is not open to discussing such views. Offering such things as advice, counsel, or direction is very much appropriate at the right time and if the person is receptive.
- We are not to judge others and find fault with them when it comes to things that are conscience decisions. There are things in life where the Bible does not explicitly say something is right or wrong, such as voting for politicians, and so the Christian is obligated to extrapolate from the Scriptures what they can and cannot do. The Bible may not talk about specific types of entertainment. However, Bible principles can help each Christian know how God feels as to if it is good and right. Yet, different Christians might come to different conclusions.
- We are not to be casual or unconstrained in conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being valid. We are not to be a person who likes talking about other people’s private lives.
- There are certainly times when it is an act of kindness and Christian duty to be concerned about others, but it should be done with the utmost respect and delicacy.
- The spiritual welfare of everyone is the concern of everyone in the church to a certain degree. One can only offer, guide, and lead to spiritual progress. It is up to the other person to partake. The pastor and church leadership are to grow its members spiritually and in helping them to take in a deeper knowledge of God’s Word and be united doctrinally. If a member has gone astray, they are to be lovingly guided back on track. If they are teaching doctrinal errors, they are to be instructed. If they are in difficulty, we are to assist them.
We can fight arrogance and selfishness by keeping in mind the apostle Paul’s direction to the Philippians. If we see even the lowliest as superior to us, we are not troubled by those who have some areas of life where they are more skilled or talented. Instead, we will be happy for them. This would also be true of those who are using their talents and skills in service to God. And for those that possess more outstanding talents and skills, they will not be lording it over others but using them so as to draw attention to God, not themselves. The gifted will also be focusing their attention on the other qualities of those who are less gifted in preaching and teaching. The end result will be church peace and unity.
 Albert Garner, The Prison Epistles (Verse by Verse) (Lakeland, Florida: The Blessed Hope Foundation, 1977). Page 151