Every now and then, a Bible verse I’ve read a thousand times reaches out and grabs my heart in a fresh way. It’s amazing that after thousands of years, God still speaks through His written Word to those who seek and give their lives to Him. The verses that recently grabbed hold of me were Philippians 2:3-4, which read, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” As we examine our own lives, how close are we living to this instruction? Are we putting the needs of others before our own or diligently striving to become as comfortable, wealthy, and successful as we can be?
Notice that we weren’t instructed to live destitute or in abject poverty. Paul writes that we should look after our own interests as well as those of others. It’s easy to take the teachings of the New Testament to the extreme of selling all your possessions and giving everything you have to the poor. Jesus actually instructed the rich young ruler to do this very thing (Mark 10:17-22). We must recognize that Jesus was looking at the man’s heart and saw that he valued his possessions more than he valued the welfare of others. Jesus always cut right to the root of the problem. If possessions are keeping you from living for God, then sell them all. If your eyes are preventing you from glorifying God, gouge them out (Matthew 18:9). If your hands are causing you to sin, chop them off (Matthew 5:30). In each of these statements, Christ was telling us that we need to get rid of whatever is keeping us from devoting our entire lives to God. We don’t all need to sell everything, gouge out our eyes, or chop off our hands. What matters is that we let nothing stand between us and our Father in Heaven.
It’s okay to care for your family financially, in fact the Bible tells us that should be our priority after seeking God first (Isaiah 58:7; 1 Timothy 5:8). It’s important to not think that caring for your family means lavishing them with every trinket and bauble. Our excess should be spent on helping those who are less fortunate than we are. God blesses us so that we will in turn bless others in His name. He will provide for our needs (Luke 12:29-31). It is our job to do the same for others.
We should never concern ourselves with keeping up with our friends and neighbors. As far back as the Ten Commandments we were told not to covet. Coveting at best means desiring something more than God has given you, and at worst that you are placing a greater value on something other than God Himself. We worship that which has our focus and attention.
Be humble. Consider others to be more valuable than yourself. Care for the needs of those around you out of the excess God has entrusted to you. In these ways, we demonstrate the love of God to a world desperate to know Him. If we all lived according to Philippians 2:3-4, we’d make the world a better place, one that is overflowing with the love of our God.