Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
We tend to put more energy into starting and building relationships than we do in maintaining them. We present our best selves in the beginning. But as time goes on, we push the boundaries of what is acceptable. We worry less about the other, and selfishness begins to creep in.
Selfishness is a destroyer of relationships. It is the number one cause of conflict, arguments, and divorce. The creator of healthy relationships, however, is selflessness. What does selflessness mean? It literally means less of “me.” It means realizing that the world is not here to make you happy. It means thinking of others before you think of yourself. It means think of what God would want you to do before you construct your own list of needs and wants.
Selflessness brings out the best in others. It builds trust. The old saying goes, “You can’t change anyone but yourself.” And in fact, if you change yourself, and become more selfless in a relationship, it almost forces the other person to change. When you put the other person first, they have to learn to relate to you in a new way. I’ve seen it many times. In a relationship where one person sees no alternative but to change themselves, or they simply decide to become more selfless, it doesn't take long for the other person to begin to soften, release anger and resentment, and begin to change themselves as well.
In this letter to the Philippians, Paul tells us to imitate the humility of Christ. This is impossible to do perfectly, all the time, but it is rather easy to do one relationship at a time. Think about one relationship you would like to improve. Decide today to act selflessly within that relationship for the next week. Truly put the other before yourself. See what begins to change in your heart and theirs.
God, you continually call me to live a sacrificial life, and yet I fall short. Help me to see others the way you see them. Help me to be a person who serves others with all that I am and all that I have. You gave so much for me, Lord. Thank you. Guide me to live a life that honors your gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.