Today’s verse is a hard cookie to swallow. Philippians 2:4 says: “Abandon every display of selfishness. Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests” (Philippians 2:4 TPT). When we are born, we are all about the “me” of the world. I want fed. I need a diaper change. I am bored. I want picked up. I… I… I… This is how we begin our life journey. As we grow and learn, we are taught to live with ourselves at the center. This is what the world shows us again and again.
This verse gets easily misunderstood. Since we are so self-focused, when we read this, we read that we need to not think about ourselves at all. This causes us to get defensive. No. No. Do not crush me. Do not take away something that is mine. We tense up. What if we lose out? What if we don’t have enough? What if…? But the verse isn’t saying that our interests don’t matter. The verse isn’t saying that we lose out because we have concern for others. This verse isn’t saying we lose our rights, lose our privileges, etc. because we cared for others. This is the stumbling block we need to get over. To put it bluntly: we need to get over ourselves. As we get over ourselves, we need to remind ourselves of what God says not simply in this verse, but in His Word. He says we each have value. We each are made in His image. He says He loves you and me so much that He sent His only Son to die for us.
Today’s verse is saying that we should have a greater concern for people and what matters to them, because we are wired to be more concerned about ourselves. As we look out for ourselves, we should also look out for others. The word “also” or “too” that is found in many translations is the word “kai” which means “and” or “also,” showing us that it’s not you or me. It’s not do everything for another and show no concern for yourself. It’s not do everything for yourself and forget others. It’s you and me. It’s us. We are in it together and we need too often to be reminded of this truth because the world will continue to try to cause division. The devil loves to cause disunity and broken relationships. Look around.
As we consider today’s verse, let us be reminded of our relationships and those we encounter in our walk today. Can we do the “also” today? Can we stop looking at the concerns or needs or opinions of others as second or third to us? Can we live in the world of “also” instead of a world of either or relationships? Yes, there are hard truths. There is right and wrong. There is truth and lies. There is good and bad. There are times when there is only one correct answer. However, when it comes to people, when it comes to relationships — every person matters. These rights and wrongs, these hard truths, shouldn’t get in the way of loving others. There is not an “either or” when it comes to people.
God says ALL PEOPLE matter to Him. This verse reminds us to be concerned for others, to not let our own concerns, fears, struggles, pride, judgment, greed, beliefs, etc., get in the way of caring and loving others. We can care for others. We can be there for others. We can love upon others. And this concern isn’t a concern that is rooted in our selfish needs and what we get out of it, but rather, it’s rooted in love. It comes from the Spirit. He alone helps us get over ourselves and helps us to love others. He convicts us and guides us to live in the “also” of life. He shows us what it truly means to die to self. What can you do? Pray that your heart be broken for what breaks God’s heart. Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Listen to others. Ask questions of them. Then listen. Serve others. See needs and fill the gaps. This can be simple. There’s no need to make it difficult or trivial. Soon enough, your eyes will see there is a lot more “also” needed all around you. So many are searching for love. Let us love one another.