Living Life with God's Irrepressible Joy
You might have heard or read this acrostic before. It’s so true! The secret to joy is finding the right priorities and putting them in the correct order. While life isn’t always so simple and clear cut, the general outline of “Jesus, others, you” is a good way to start getting things in the correct order.
While Paul never explicitly states this nifty maxim, he does stress the importance of putting others before yourself and Jesus above all else. As we move into Philippians 2, the first thing we find is an exhortation to count others above ourselves. This is no easy thing. But let’s see what Paul has to say about it.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit,
any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in
humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look
not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
There are so many convicting, yet encouraging nuggets in this passage! While they are all self-explanatory, I’d like to dig a little deeper at the last two verses.
Paul exhorts, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Stop! Take a moment to read that again. Count others more significant than yourselves. In our “me” centered culture and society, these words are easy to gloss over. However, this is the most important exhortation Paul gives us in this passage. Being of the same mind, having the same love, and possessing unity all stem from this vital concept. We are called and commanded to count others as more important, more significant than ourselves.
Jesus demonstrated this in the selfless way He served people and ultimately in His obedience on the cross. If Jesus counted us—sinful human beings who disobeyed and wronged a holy God—greater than His perfect, divine self, how can we not count our fellow man as more important than us—more important than you, than me?
The culture says that each man is out for himself. If you think of others first, you’ll lose in this vicious, competitive world. There is an entire generation rising up who have never thought of another person above themselves. Entitlement is on the rise along with narcissism (extreme selfishness) and arrogance. People are encouraged to think of themselves only, so we have a culture full of selfish and conceited individuals.
However, God calls us to a higher standard. Throughout Scripture, we are exhorted to walk in humility and are told that those who are prideful will be humbled. Combine humility with God’s love for others and you’ll get “count others more significant than yourselves.” For we can have humility before God, but without a love for others we will have a hard time following Paul’s exhortation. We must possess both in order to obey this command.
So where are you in the process of putting others before yourself? Can you honestly say that you count others more important than yourself and that you look out for their interests above your own? Do you have humility without love or vice versa?
May God continue to guide and direct us to the areas in which self rears its ugly head, and may He give us the strength to humble ourselves and love others by putting them before ourselves. For when we are able to count others as greater than us, we will be able to attain the unity that God so desires among His people.
Remember, JOY: Jesus, Others, You. What does your life acronym spell out? Are you at the top or the bottom?