Be Devoted to the Interests of Others (Sermon Recap)
BE DEVOTED TO THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS
In our most recent sermon, we reflected on Philippians 2:4 in light of the larger vision of Philippians 1:27–2:30. This is how I summarized the larger vision:
As people who are being transformed by the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Philippians 1:6, 2:1, 2:13),
we are called to obey the Lord (Philippians 2:12) and follow His example (Philippians 2:5-8),
walking in humility and love toward each other (Philippians 2:3-4)
for the sake of deep congregational unity (Philippians 2:2),
so that we can effectively work together to carry out Christ's mission (Philippians 1:27-30, 2:15),
for the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:10-11, 2:11, 4:20).
With this larger context in view, we then focused on Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4 ESV) Here the apostle Paul calls us to loving attentiveness to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. If we would live well in accordance with this instruction, then there are at least two ways in which we must be transformed.
First, we must be experiencing a transformation of vision. Our natural tendendy is to "look... to [our] own interests" and to the interests of our own family. While it is true that we each bear responsibility for a basic level of self-care and ought to care deeply for our family members, Philippians 2:4 exhorts us to not get drowned in our own little world of self-interest. Do not be preoccupied with self-interest, but care deeply for "the interests of others" – and in the context of Philippians 2:1-4, these "others" that we are called to love are the fellow members of our congregation. Give up the addiction to comfort and pleasure and safety and having your own way, and instead learn to serve your fellow Christians with joy. We are fellow disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and fellow soldiers on the battlefield of gospel mission, and all of us Christians are called to follow Christ as one body of believers. And the way we do this together is where each one is lovingly attentive to all the others – caring, honoring, praying, serving, and considering it a great privilege to stand "side by side" (Philippians 1:27 ESV) with your fellow saints.
Second, we must also be experiencing a transformation of definition. I raised the question: What are "the interests" of others? Who goes to define these interests – you, me, others, or God? While verse 4 doesn't define or explain what "the interests of others" actually are, the larger context makes things clear. Paul's example in Philippians 1:21-26, Jesus' example in Philippians 2:5-8, and Timothy's example in Philippians 2:19-21 show that "the interests of others" are bound up with their advancement in the interests of Christ, with their growth in the things of God, with their "progress and joy in the faith" (Philippians 1:25 ESV), and with their faithful participation in the fellowship and mission of the Church. Bottom line: God gets to define our interests, not us! God defines what "the interests of others" actually are, and our role is to recognize what these interests are. In general, caring deeply for "the interests of others" means that we are helping our fellow Christians live a faithful and fruitful Christian life in fellowship with Jesus and His people. This care includes all kinds of practical support that give our fellow believers the nourishment, provision, and strengthen that they need so that they can live productively for the glory of God and the good of others.
Brothers and sisters, be devoted to the interests of others in a radically Christ-centered, gospel-shaped, church-strengthening, and God-glorifying way. Let the sweetness of Christ flavor all of our loving words and loving deeds toward one another. Give to one another all that is needful and helpful, and generously give it because of Jesus and for Jesus and to promote Jesus' work in and through His people.