Paul is writing to the church at Philippi teaching them how they should behave. It’s good advice. I’ll paraphrase how I read this:
If you are getting anything worthwhile from being a Christian
You should love each other and work together.
Don’t always be focused on thinking about what is going to be good for you.
Don’t spend all your time on making a good impression on others.
Be humble, treating others as more important than yourself.
Be interested in other people and what they are doing.
Learn to have the same humble attitude as Jesus
Jesus was God but he did not demand and cling to his Godly rights.
He had the right to live in heaven and be worshipped.
Instead he chose to be humble
he was willing to be a human like us.
He was willing to be born in a cow shed
and be treated like a crazy man by his own family.
He was willing to be horribly executed even though he was innocent.
That is the attitude we should learn from.
This is not about respect for Paul, but for God.
It is God (not Paul) who gives the desire and the ability to be unselfish.
The desire to be selfless, and the ability to do it both come from God.
God gives them so you can act selflessly without complaining and arguing,
(complaining and arguing are usually the result of selfishness)
As you learn to be unselfish no one will be able to say bad things against you.
God will help you live an innocent, Godly life that shines in this dark world full of crooked people.
Every day, cling to God’s word (read it and follow what it teaches) and when Christ returns, none of this will have been a waste of time.
: We tend to be very aware of our own rights. There are a lot of things we think we are entitled to. Things we deserve. Jesus showed a different way of behaving. When you make plans whose desires do you think of first? We tend to think this is my life and I am entitled to live it the way I choose. Jesus taught us to live the way God chooses for the benefit of others – not ourselves.
I said earlier that arguing and complaining are usually the result of selfishness – usually the reason people complain is because they are unhappy about what is happening to them or what they are being required to do. Much of what we say in argument is a defence of our own position and our own rights.
When you see that someone is in need of help, or of money – when you have an opportunity to give to the poor, what do you do? Jesus and his followers gave money to the poor, even though they were poor themselves.
When I come home from work and I am tired, I am tempted to think that I have worked hard and I deserve some rest. My wife has been very busy while I was out and she deserves a rest too. Who will make dinner? Both of us have a right to our rest. We have both earned a break. What’s the answer? The normal response is to argue about who has worked harder, and who deserves it more, or to complain about how hard it is to have to do extra work on top of all the work I already did. But the most Christ-like will choose to serve without arguing or complaining, and be the first to say “I will do it.” Where we are both Christians, we should each be competing to be the first to serve the other.
If someone hurts you or says something bad about you, you might feel that you have a right to defend yourself, but Jesus taught that if someone slaps your face on one side, let them hit the other side too. If they say horrible things about you, you should pray that God will bless them.
Did you ever cover for someone by pretending that their embarrassing mistake was actually your fault? I have a friend who is very good at this. His wife has a secret phrase that she says to him when she wants to go home. This might be because she is tired or feeling ill, or doesn’t want to be near these people anymore. He always responds by finding an excuse to leave that usually makes it look like it is his fault so she doesn’t have to be embarrassed. He is not worried about people’s impression of him as much as he is about their impression of the woman he loves.
When you talk about your favourite subject of the day, ask yourself how often you listen to the other person talk about theirs? Consider how often you talk to people about your problems or illnesses and how often you listen to them talk about theirs? Consider also when you are talking, what percentage of the talking is coming from you compared to them?
What about at home – consider that if you don’t pick up after yourself, you husband or your wife, or your mother will have to do it. You are sending them a message that you think they should serve you. How often do you serve them by picking up after yourself (which is your responsibility) and also picking up after them as well?
Jesus taught what we call the Golden Rule -- Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Matt 7:12)
Some people misunderstand this to think that it is saying that you should treat people how you want to be treated so that they will do the same. Jesus’ teaching was simpler. Expecting that no one will ever follow your example or even care that you did anything good, treat people the way you would like them to treat you.
If you want to know how to be unselfish, find people who are not selfish, watch them carefully, and do what they do (see Philippians 3:17).
I think it’s worth thinking about,