Posted on Oct 9, 2015 | 0 comments

As we walk through this unknown field mine, not of our own choosing, it is natural to want to simply run and hide…not to emerge until the skies are blue with white fluffy clouds and the air is fresh with newness.  But that is the only choice that will bring death…so we must go forward, even if it is only one step at a time. And seriously folks, that’s probably about all I can do at this time – but that’s ok too. So forward we go, one step at a time.

One of the important hi-lights of my day is beginning each morning with Skip Moen’s Word for the Day.   With what we are going through … and with everything that I have been ‘preaching’ lately … Skip has epitomized my heart’s cry… read for yourself:

 

What Matters Most
by Skip Moen, D. Phil.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,   Philippians 2:3-5 NASB

Personal interests – Paul is much more direct than this translation implies. In addition, Paul is concerned with a much wider range than just “personal” interests. In fact, the Greek text is so general that all kinds of glosses are added to make it understandable to modern English readers. But in the process, the force of Paul’s thought seems blunted.

The Greek actually reads, “not the self each look.” Notice how the NASB supplies added words. Where does “merely” come from, or “personal”? Paul’s text drives home a much more powerful point. “Self” must be set aside. But in the NASB we only have to worry about those personal interests that conflict. We are excused from any self-concern that is not selfish. Paul seems to disagree. There is no “merely” caveat here. If self is involved, it needs to be reigned in. Any hint of ego is an invitation to employ humility.

Given the forcefulness of Paul’s direction, we must notice that the text involves more than the “interests of others.” Just as we must set aside our self, so we must build up the self of the other. This is much more than “interests.” This is enhancing whatever is required in order for the other to become all that God intended. Of course there are personal interests involved, but what God intends goes far beyond personal interest. God intends each one of us to play a part in the restoration of the Kingdom, in the grand purposes of the ‘olam ha’ba and in an eternal glorification of the Creator. Personal interests end with me. God does not stop there. When I consider the “self” of the other, I must factor in God’s point-of-view and that means I must treat the other with eternal gloves. What matters most is not my interests or even the interests of the other. What matters most is what God is doing in my life and the lives of all the others I affect and unless I see them through God’s eyes I will never fulfill Paul’s command.

In order to accomplish what Paul commands I must practice seeing others as God sees them. This takes work! We have a natural desire to survive and survival training usually leads us to consider ourselves first. This motivation, this power, is the domain of the yetzer ha’ra. Now Paul desires us to redirect this natural and necessary energy so that it serves the other person. This is nothing more (or less) than fulfilling the commandment to love our neighbor. But it isn’t easy and it isn’t the usual first priority. That means we need plenty of deliberately chosen acts of kindness toward others if we are going to reroute this natural propensity. We must choose to be sensitive to the opportunity to serve. We must practice a heightened awareness of the fragile consciousness of the other. We must think, speak and act toward others in ways that demonstrate godly concern. And we must willingly repent of all those missteps when the yetzer ha’ra got the best of us. What matters most is worshiping the Father by loving His children.

Topical Index: personal interests, self, other, Philippians 2:3-5

love never fails

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