Philippians 2:3-4 Commentary

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: meden kat' eritheian mede kata kenodoxian, alla te tapeinophrosune allelous hegoumenoi (PMPMPN) huperechontas (PMPMPA) heauton

Amplified: Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

BBE: Doing nothing through envy or through pride, but with low thoughts of self let everyone take others to be better than himself

ICB: When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. (ICB: Nelson)

NLT: Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. (NLT - Tyndale House)

KJV: Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Phillips : Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other then you do of yourselves. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: Doing nothing impelled by a spirit of factiousness, nothing impelled by empty pride, but in lowliness of mind consider one another as excelling themselves, this estimation resting, not upon feelings or sentiment, but upon a due consideration of facts. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: nothing in rivalry or vain-glory, but in humility of mind one another counting more excellent than yourselves--

DO NOTHING FROM SELFISHNESS: meden kat eritheian: (Phil 2:14; 1:15,16; Pr 13:10; Ro 13:13; 1Cor 3:3; 2Co 12:20; Gal 5:15; 5:20,21, 5:26, Col 3:8; 1Ti 6:4; Jas 3:14, 15, 16; 1Pe 2:1,2) (See Torrey's Topic Selfishness)

Do nothing to promote the ends of party faction. (Lightfoot)

Do nothing in a spirit of selfish ambition (Barclay)

Doing nothing impelled by a spirit of factiousness (Wuest)

nothing in rivalry (Young's)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition (NIV),

Never act from motives of rivalry (Phillips)

When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide (ICB),

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] (Amp)

Do - This verb is not present in the original Greek which reads simply "nothing by selfish ambition" or "nothing according to factions or strife".

Nothing (3367) (medeis from medé = and not, also not + heís = one) means not even one, no one. Medeis is a negative reference to an entity, event, or state— no one, none, nothing. Pertaining to to there not being any selfishness.

To paraphrase Wiersbe, the secret of joy in spite of circumstances (Chapter 1 Paul in prison) is maintaining a single mind and the secret of joy in spite of people is maintaining a submissive mind. In chapter 1 we find “Christ first” and in chapter 2 we see “others next.” Using "J.O.Y." as an acrostic we see "J" for Jesus first, "O" for others next and finally "Y" for yourself last. A good order in order to maintain order but a "tall order" to carry out consistently. (cf Php 4:13 for how it is possible) Let this formula rule in your life (enabled by Php 2:13) and the "fruit" you will bear (Gal 5:22-note) will be supernatural "J.O.Y."!

Selfishness (2052) (eritheia [word study] from eritheúo = work for hire, usually in a bad sense of those who seek only their own)

Eritheia - 7x in 7v- Ro 2:8; 2 Cor 12:20; Gal 5:20; Phil 1:17; 2:3; Jas 3:14, 16. NAS = ambition(3), ambitious(1), disputes(2), selfish(3), selfishly(1), selfishness(1)

Selfishness - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Selfishness - Nave's Topical Bible

Selfishness - Torrey's Topical Textbook

Selfishness is an inordinate self love, prompting one, for the sake of personal gratification or advantage, to disregard the rights or feelings of other men. It is a negative quality — that is, it consists in not considering what is due to one's neighbors through a deficiency of justice or benevolence. Selfishness is contrary to the Scriptures, which command us to have respect for the rights and feelings of others, and forbids us to encroach thereupon. (Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature)

The root meaning of eritheia may have been that of a hireling. The idea is of a mercenary, who does his work simply for money, without regard for the issues or any harm he may be doing. Everything he does is for the purpose of serving and pleasing self. Certainly this fits the Bible’s emphasis that the basic problem of unregenerate man is his being totally wrapped up in himself and having no place in his life for God.

Eritheia connotes strife, contentiousness, extreme selfishness, intriguing for office, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and factious spirit, self-seeking.

Eritheia is found outside the NT uses only in a writing by Aristotle where he uses it to denote a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means. It represents a motive of self–interest and is sometimes rendered “strife” (KJV) because it refers to factionalism, rivalry, and partisanship & speaks of the pride that prompts people to push for their own way. Paul had experienced the effects of "selfish ambition" in (Php 1:17).

Many commentators feel that from the nature of Paul's exhortation (against selfishness) one can infer that there were budding factions among the saints at Philippi. In a gracious way, Paul is saying to the church, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats. It’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.”

Paul wanted them to see that the basic cause was selfishness, and the cause of selfishness is pride.

Pentecost explains that the word selfishness "has to do with a party spirit; it has to do with a faction in the church that wants to promote its aims and ambitions as opposed to another group. When the assembly is divided into different groups, following different men, then there will be a party spirit, and the first party is competing with the second party for power and prominence. There is competition in reaching the same ends and the same goals. The apostle says that, if his joy is to be filled up, there cannot be factions and divisions and party spirit or competition within groups in the assembly. (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)

Barnes has some stinging comments on the things we do "with a spirit of contention" writing that "This command forbids us to do anything, or attempt anything as the mere result of strife. This is not the principle from which we are to act, or by which we are to be governed. We are to form no plan, and aim at no object which is to be secured in this way. The command prohibits all attempts to secure anything over others by mere physical strength, or by superiority of intellect or numbers. or as the result of dark schemes and plans formed by rivalry, or by the indulgence of angry passions, or with the spirit of ambition. We are not to attempt to do anything merely by outstripping others, or by showing that we have more talent, courage, or zeal. What we do is to be by principle, and with a desire to maintain the truth, and to glorify God. And yet how often is this rule violated! How often do Christian denominations attempt to outstrip each other, and to see which shall be the greatest! How often do ministers preach with no better aim! How often do we attempt to outdo others in dress, and it the splendor of furniture and equipment! How often, even in plans of benevolence, and in the cause of virtue and religion, is the secret aim to outdo others. This is all wrong. There is no holiness in such efforts. Never once did the Redeemer act from such a motive, and never once should this motive be allowed to influence us. The conduct of others may be allowed to show us what we can do, and ought to do; but it should not be our sole aim to outstrip them"

OR EMPTY CONCEIT: kata kenodoxian :

nothing to gratify your own personal vanity (Lightfoot)

and in a search for empty glory (Barclay)

Doing … nothing impelled by empty pride (Wuest)

Never act from motives of … personal vanity (Phillips)

don't live to make a good impression on others (NLT)

or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance (Amp)

Empty conceit (2754) (kenodoxia from kenos = empty, vain, hollow, groundless + doxa = glory, praise or opinion) is used only here in the NT and literally means “vain glory”, "empty praise" or "hollow opinion" all describing in essence something which has an appearance but lacks the reality. It is a graphic description of the glory this world affords us which to the natural man appears "beautiful" and desirable, but which is literally devoid of any good or any eternal value. Kenodoxia describes the person who is conceited without reason, deluded, ambitious for his own reputation, challenging others to rivalry, jealous himself and willing to fight to prove his idea is right.

The idea of kenodoxia includes a highly exaggerated self-view. It is a passion for empty personal glory which contrasts sharply with humility. It is that attitude of personal vanity and self-promotion, as might be seen for example in someone in a position of leadership, who is trying to build a personal following for their own faction, and by so doing does not manifest love of the brethren or love of Christ but to promote themselves. John gives us an example of such a person writing that "Diotrephes… loves to be first (he sought preeminence) among (the church and) does not accept what we say (his desire for preeminence led him to discount the doctrine taught by John)" (3John 1:9)

Warnings against conceit - Proverbs 3:7 Proverbs 26:5 Proverbs 26:12 Isaiah 5:21 Romans 12:16 1 Corinthians 8:2 Galatians 6:3

Although James doesn't use the word kenodoxia, he does describe the essence of empty glory and it's passing "fruit" declaring that "the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away." (James 1:11)

Indeed, one day (soon) all the glory of natural, unregenerate men will wither away like a scorched flower when the light of God's glory rises over the whole earth (cf Hab 2:14). In that fateful day all the glory of men will be seen as absolutely vain and empty. Jesus contrasted empty conceit (vainglory) with eternal glory asking "How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? (John 5:44)

To live for the empty glory of this day is a hollow pursuit.

It is notable that the root word kenos when used not of things but of persons, predicates not merely an absence and emptiness of good, but, since the moral nature of man endures no vacuum, the presence of evil.

KJV translates it "vainglory" which is defined as an excessive or ostentatious pride especially in one’s own achievements. Persons who seek to advance themselves usually enjoy glorying in their success. But there can be no genuine joy in the life of a Christian who puts "self" above "others".

Paul says saints are to have nothing to do with the pursuit of personal praise, which is the motivation or root cause of their selfish ambition (cf "selfish ambition" in Php 1:17-note). Paul uses the related adjective kenodoxos in (Gal 5:25, 26-note) to help us understand what it means to walk in the Spirit writing that "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful (kenodoxos), challenging one another, envying one another."

The sad truth is that the man who is wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package!

MacArthur explains how kenodoxia contrasts with "self ambition" (eritheia) - Whereas selfish ambition pursues personal goals, empty conceit seeks personal glory and acclaim. The former pertains to personal accomplishments; the latter to an over inflated self-image. Understandably, a person with such conceit considers himself always to be right and expects others to agree with him. The only unity he seeks or values is centered on himself. (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)

Vine adds "There are true grounds for Christian glorying (Php 3:3), but these are not found in the man himself, nor in his religious attainments, nor in the observance of laws and ordinances, but in what he is by God’s grace and what God’s grace does through him. Empty glory, or conceit, is carnal and stupid."

The NIV Study Bible rightly calls selfishness (selfish ambition) and empty conceit = "The mortal enemies of unity and harmony in the church."

Barnes writes that the essence of kenodoxia "seems to be that of mere self-esteem; a mere desire to honor ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object. The command here solemnly forbids our doing anything with such an aim - no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. Self is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive. Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this, or would touch on more points of human conduct, it fairly applied. Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power with which it is done! Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee? Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire? If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from “strife,” or from “vain-glory,” how small a portion would be left!"

BUT WITH HUMILITY OF MIND: alla te tapeinophrosune: (Lk 14:7-11; 18:14; Ro 12:10; 1Co 15:9; Eph 4:2; 5:21; 1Pet 5:5) (See Torrey's Topic "Humility")

but in lowliness of mind. (Wuest),

instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) (Amp)

Now Paul proceeds to give the Scriptural "antidote" for selfish ambition and the pursuit of empty glory. We are to view others as being "held above" and thereby to hold ourselves as lower than them, which is exactly the opposite of what our flesh nature (see note on the "flesh") desires to do.

But (235) (alla) is an adversative (expresses antithesis or contrast) particle indicating a difference with or contrast to what precedes. Paul contrasts the preceding two "negatives" with a "positive" exhortation to pursue humility. Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for and which will go far toward minimizing and removing disharmony in the body of Christ.

Humility of mind (5012) (tapeinophrosune from tapeinos = low lying, then low or humble + phren = to think) literally means to think or judge with lowliness and thus speaks of humiliation of mind, lowliness of mind, lowly thinking, the quality of unpretentious behavior, a humble attitude, modesty (modesty = unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities) or without arrogance. The word indicates the esteeming one's self as small or recognizing one’s insufficiency but at the same time recognizing the powerful sufficiency of God!

John Wesley observed that “neither the Romans nor the Greeks had a word for humility.” The very concept was so foreign and abhorrent to their way of thinking that they had no term to describe it. When, during the first several centuries of Christianity, pagan writers borrowed the term tapeinophrosune, they always used it derogatorily—frequently of Christians—because to them humility was a pitiable weakness.

Vine writes that tapeinophrosune "indicates, not a merely moral quality, but the subjection of self under the authority of, and in response to, the love of the Lord Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit to conform the believer to the character of Christ. In contrast to the world’s idea of being “poor-spirited” (in Classical Greek tapeinos commonly carried that imputation), the Lord commends “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3-note).

Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but is really not thinking of ourselves at all.

Barclay - Basil was to describe it as “the gem casket of all the virtues”; but before Christianity humility was not counted as a virtue at all. The ancient world looked on humility as a thing to be despised… In classical Greek there is no word for humility which has not some tinge of servility; but Christian humility is not a cringing thing. It is based on two things. First, on the divine side, it is based on the awareness of the creatureliness of humanity. God is the Creator, man the creature, and in the presence of the Creator the creature cannot feel anything else but humility. Second, on the human side, it is based on the belief that all men are the sons of God; and there is no room for arrogance when we are living among men and women who are all of royal lineage. (Philippians 2 Commentary)

Humility as discussed below always had a negative connotation in classical Greek. Christianity elevated this term to the supreme virtue, in fact providing the ultimate antidote for self-love that poisons all relationships.

John MacArthur explains that " In secular Greek literature, the adjective tapeinos (“lowly”) was used exclusively in a derisive way, most commonly of a slave. It described what was considered base, common, unfit, and having little value. Thus, it is not surprising that the noun tapeinophrosune has not been found in any extra-biblical Greek literature before the second century. It seems, therefore, to have originated in the New Testament, where, along with its synonyms, it always has a positive connotation. Humility of mind is the opposite of pride, the sin that has always separated fallen men from God, making them, in effect, their own gods. Humility is also a dominant virtue in the Old Testament. “When pride comes, then comes dishonor,” warns Solomon, “but with the humble is wisdom” (Pr 11:2). Later he declares, “It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Pr 16:19). (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press)

Edwards observes that "True humility is not putting ourselves down but rather lifting up others. If we concentrate on lifting up others, putting down ourselves will take care of itself. As we go through life exalting Christ and others, then genuine humility will be inevitable. If we exalt ourselves then God will take care of our humiliation for He promises to humble the proud. It is much less painful to do it the first way.

Tapeinophrosune - 7x in 7v- Acts 20:19; Eph 4:2; Phil 2:3; Col 2:18, 23; 3:12; 1 Pet 5:5. NAS = humility(4), humility of mind(1), self-abasement(2).

All of the uses convey a good connotation. See also word study on root word tapeinos.

Here are some of the other NT uses of tapeinophrosune…

Acts 20:19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;

Ephesians 4:2 (note) (Context = Eph 4:1 Paul charges saints to walk worthy) with all humility (What is the first stepping stone of a worthy walk in Christ?) and gentleness (prautes), with patience (makrothumia), showing forbearance (anechomai) to one another in love (agape),

1 Peter 5:5 (note) You younger men, likewise, be subject (hupotasso) to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Colossians has 3 of the 7 NT uses of tapeinophrosune. Paul condemns false humility in his letter to the Colossians where there were individuals in their midst who were

"delighting in self-abasement (tapeinophrosune They were delighting in it, meaning their supposed humility was nothing but ugly pride. It was like that of Uriah Heep, one of the most contemptible characters of English literature, who said, “I am well aware that I am the ’umblest person going” Chapter 16 of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield)… inflated without cause by his fleshly mind… (Col 2:18-note)

matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement (tapeinophrosune -- it was often used in connection with fasting, and several Jewish Christian writings state that a consequence of this ascetic practice is entrance into the heavenly realm - this is false teaching - see the true teaching about believers in the heavenly realm even now in Eph 2:6-note) and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence… (Col 2:23-note)

So (now Paul is exhorting believers to manifest a genuine supernaturally Spirit empowered, Christ centered, God glorifying humility) as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility (tapeinophrosune), gentleness and patience" (Col 3:12-note)

Plato defined humility as follows

That state of mind which submits to the divine order of the universe, and does not impiously exalt itself. (And excellent definition for one who as far as we know denied the Creator!)

Humility was considered to be a vice with Greek pagan moralists, but a virtue with Christian apostles. The Greco Roman world considered humility to be groveling or abject and thus held it in considerable contempt. So Paul is going counter to his culture which said that to be low on the social scale, to know poverty, or to be socially powerless was shameful.

Pentecost adds that…

The Greeks prided themselves on being better than other men, and they considered it something to be proud of to acknowledge their superiority. A man so perverted not to think of himself as being a superior person was called by this word. If the army, successful in battle, took a number of captives whose lives they spared to become servants, these servants might rightly think of themselves by this word “humble-minded.” But for a Greek, never! (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)

Lenski - "The pagan and the secular idea of manhood is self-assertiveness, imposing one's will on others; when anyone stooped to others he did so only under compulsion, hence his action was ignominious [disgraceful]. The Christian ethical idea of humility could not be reached by the secular mind; it lacked the spiritual soil."

Scripture sees the universe as measurable only against God. Compared to him, human beings are rightly viewed as humble or those who should think of themselves as "low lying".

Jesus taught that "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Lk 18:14, - This truth which the fallen, proud world abhors is one of the baseline principles in the Kingdom of God = Lk 1:52, 14:11, Ps 138:6, Pr 3:34, Pr 15:33, 18:12, 29:23, Jas 4:10)

With this (and other teaching of course) Jesus thus elevated humility as a supreme virtue and providing an antidote for self-love that poisons relationships and creates disunity.

Vine describes humility as "the subjection of self under the authority of and in response to the love of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to conform the believer to the character of Christ. In contrast to the world’s idea of being “poor-spirited” (in Classical Greek tapeinos commonly carried that imputation), the Lord commends “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3-note)." (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

ISBE - The word tapeinophrosunē is not found in classical Greek (Lightfoot); in the New Testament (with the exception of 1 Peter 5:5 ) it is Pauline. In Greek pre-Christian writers tapeinos is, with a few exceptions in Plato and Platonic writers, used in a bad or inferior sense - as denoting something evil or unworthy. The prominence it gained in Christian thought indicates the new conception of man in relation to God, to himself, and to his fellows, which is due to Christianity. It by no means implies slavishness or servility; nor is it inconsistent with a right estimate of oneself, one's gifts and calling of God, or with proper self-assertion when called for. But the habitual frame of mind of a child of God is that of one who feels not only that he owes all his natural gifts, etc., to God, but that he has been the object of undeserved redeeming love, and who regards himself as being not his own, but God's in Christ. He cannot exalt himself, for he knows that he has nothing of himself. The humble mind is thus at the root of all other graces and virtues. Self-exaltation spoils everything. There can be no real love without humility. "Love," said Paul, "vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up" ( 1 Corinthians 13:4 ). As Augustine said, humility is first, second and third in Christianity. (Humility - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

Someone has described humility as “insight into one’s own insignificance”. It is the mind-set of the person who is not conceited but who has a right attitude toward himself. Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates a lack of humility before God.

Wuest has this note on tapeinophrosune " Trench says of this word: “The Christian lowliness is no mere modesty or absence of pretension, nor yet a self-made grace. The making of ourselves small is pride in the disguise of humility. But the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so, the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore, lowlily of ourselves.” The word is used in an early secular manuscript of the Nile River at its low stage, “It runs low.” Expositors defines it: “the lowliness of mind which springs from a true estimate of ourselves—a deep sense of our own moral smallness and demerit.” (Philippians Commentary - Verse by Verse Comments Online)

Andrew Murray quipped that "The humble person is not one who thinks meanly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all!"

Humility is that grace that, when you know you have it, you have lost it! The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself (Ro 12:3-note). He yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others. “Others” is a key idea in this section as the believer’s eyes are turned away from himself and focused on the needs of others.

Richards adds that "This (section) is perhaps Scripture’s clearest portrait of the “humility” called for in the Gospel. It is not a weak man’s surrender, but a strong man’s rejection of selfishness and determination to be actively concerned with the needs and interests of others." (He adds) It is good to know as we humble ourselves to follow Jesus that our "labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1Co 15:58). In Christ there are no empty, meaningless lives. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)

Barnes has an interesting description of humility as the estimation of "ourselves according to truth. It is a willingness to take the place which we ought to take in the sight of God and man; and, having the low estimate of our own importance and character which the truth about our insignificance as creatures and vileness as sinners would produce, it will lead us to a willingness to perform lowly and humble offices that we may benefit others. (Philippians 2)

Humility - Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Humility - Nave's Topical Bible

Humility - Thompson Chain Reference

Humility - Torrey's Topical Textbook

Humility - American Tract Society Bible Dictionary

Humility - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Humility - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Greg Parsons - Biblical humility is grounded in the character of God. The Father stoops down to help the poor and needy (Psalm 113:4-9; 138:6-7 ); the incarnate Son exhibits humility from the manger to the cross (Matthew 11:29; Acts 8:32-33; Philippians 2:5-8 ) (Humility - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)

Humility - A personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons. (Humility - Holman Bible Dictionary)

HUMILITY.—This virtue or grace distinguished the leaders of OT history like Abraham and Moses (Genesis 18:27, Numbers 12:3), and was inculcated by the prophets as a chief duty (Micah 6:8). It belongs even to the earlier revelation of God’s character (‘that humbleth himself,’ Psalms 113:6), and is the key to man’s communion with Him (Isaiah 57:15). (Humility - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament)

HUMILITY . Trench defines ‘humility’ as the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so; the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore lowlily, of ourselves. A man may be small and may realize his smallness, and yet be far from being humble. His spirit may be full of envy instead of humility. He may be depressed in spirit because he sees his own meanness and general worthlessness, and yet he may be as rebellious against his lot or his constitutional proclivities as he is clearly cognizant of them. Low-mindedness is not lowly-mindedness. The exhortation of Philippians 2:3 does not mean that every man ought to think that everybody else is better than himself in moral character, or in outward conduct, or in natural or inherited powers. That would be impossible in some cases and untruthful in many others. It is not an exhortation to either an impossibility or an untruthfulness. A better definition of the Christian grace of humility is found in the union of highest self-respect with uttermost abandon of sacrifice in service. A man who knows his own superior worth and yet is willing to serve his inferiors in Christian love is a humble man. The classic example in the NT is John 13:3-15 . (Humility - Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible)

ILLUSTRATION - When F. B. Meyer pastored Christ Church in London, Charles Spurgeon was preaching at Metropolitan Tabernacle, and G. Campbell Morgan was at Westminster Chapel. Meyer said, "I find in my own ministry that supposing I pray for my own little flock, ‘God bless me, God fill my pews, God send my a revival,” I miss the blessing; but as I pray for my big brother, Mr. Spurgeon, on the right-hand side of my church, ‘God bless him’; or my other big brother, Campbell Morgan, on the other side of my church, ‘God bless him’; I am sure to get a blessing without praying for it, for the overflow of their cups fills my little bucket."

ILLUSTRATION - The opposite of humility of mind is illustrated by the story of the young Scottish minister who walked proudly into the pulpit to preach his first sermon. He had a brilliant mind and a good education and was confident of himself as he faced his first congregation. But the longer he preached, the more conscious everyone was that “the Lord was not in the wind.” He finished his message quickly and came down from the pulpit with his head bowed, his pride now gone. Afterward, one of the members said to him, “If you had gone into the pulpit the way you came down, you might have come down from the pulpit the way you went up.”

LET EACH ONE OF YOU REGARD (continually esteem) ONE ANOTHER AS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIMSELF: allelous hegoumenoi (PMPMPN) huperechonatas (PAPMPA) heauton: (Torrey's Topic "Self Denial")

esteem your neighbors more highly than yourselves (Lightfoot)

but in humility let each consider the other better than himself. (Barclay)

consider one another as excelling themselves this estimation resting, not upon feelings or sentiment, but upon a due consideration of facts. (Wuest)

one another counting more excellent than yourselves (Young's)

in humility think more of each other then you do of yourselves (Phillips),

let each esteem others better than himself (NKJV),

let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. (Amp),

be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself (NET)

Regard (2233) (hegeomai [word study] from ago = to lead, carry, bring) (used in Phil 2:3, 6, 25; 3:7, 8) has two basic meanings in the NT. One is to lead as one would do in a supervisory capacity as when describing men in any leading position - ruler, leader, governor (Ac 7:10) and stands opposite of a diakonos or servant in (Lk 22:26). In the apocryphal writings hegeomai was used of military commanders. It was also used to describe leaders of religious bodies, both pagan and Christian (latter in Heb 13:7, 17, 24, "leading men" in Acts 15:22, "chief speaker" in Acts 14:12). In secular Greek hegeomai was used to describe the pagan god Hermes as "the leader of the word"

The second meaning which is the intended meaning in Php 2:6 means to engage in an intellectual process (2Co 9:5, Php 2:25, Php 3:8, 2Pe 1:13. In this latter sense, hegeomai conveys the picture of leading out (note the root verb of origin = ago = to lead) before the mind, and thus to regard, esteem, count, reckon. Hegeomai was a secular mathematical term which meant "Think about it and come to a conclusion" In this sense, hegeomai pictures one giving careful thought to something and not making a quick decision. This is a belief that rests, not on one’s inner feelings or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, on the weighing and comparing of facts. The word implies a conscious, sure judgment resting on a careful weighing of the facts

Hegeomai - 14x in 12v - Matt 2:6; Luke 22:26; Acts 7:10; 14:12; 15:22; 26:2; 2 Cor 9:5; Phil 2:3, 6, 25; 3:7, 8; 1 Thess 5:13; 2 Thess 3:15; 1 Tim 1:12; 6:1; Heb 10:29; 11:11, 26; 13:7, 17, 24; Jas 1:2; 2 Pet 1:13; 2:13; 3:9, 15. NAS = chief(1), consider(3), considered(2), considering(1), count(4), counted(1), esteem(1),governor(1), leader(1), leaders(3), leading(1), led(1), regard(5), regarded(1), Ruler(1), thought(2).

Wuest picks up the idea translating it as "consider one another as excelling themselves this estimation resting, not upon feelings or sentiment, but upon a due consideration of facts." (Philippians Commentary - Verse by Verse Comments Online)

The Greek word order places "one another" before "regard" for emphasis.

Stuart Briscoe comments on "one another" writing that "It does not mean that everybody should be more interested in promoting others, encouraging others and caring for others than himself. It means that we should so relate to others that we are considerably more "others-centered" than self-centered."

Henry Morris has a pithy comment writing that…

A modern psychological ploy is to attribute many personal and social problems to individual lack of self-esteem. The Scriptures, however, urge each of us to have other-esteem, not self-esteem. Our real problem is self-centeredness and too much self-esteem. However, Paul urges us to be lowly-minded, not high-minded, seeking the good of others, not concerned with ourselves. (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)

Paul is desirous for the saints at Philippi to manifest unity, but to do that these believers must put off the "dirty" old garment of selfishness, personal vanity, haughtiness and self-interest. Paul knows that a preoccupation with one's self is a sin which will destroy the unity of the body. The paradox is that when Christ is Lord, self is dead and we are set free to be His bondslaves.

Guzik - Esteem others better than himself rebukes much of the world's concept of self esteem; the idea that we should - and must - carry with us an attitude of confident superiority in every situation, and that this is the foundation for a healthy human personality. While we recognize the intrinsic value of every human life, we can't deny that the low self-esteem of some is justified, and based in reality - when we are in rebellion against God, it is fitting for us to have a low self-esteem. As we esteem others better, we will naturally have a concern for their needs and concerns; this sort of outward looking mentality naturally leads to a unity among the people of God If I am considering you above me, and you are considering me above you, a marvelous thing happens: we have a community where everyone is looked up to, and no one is looked down on. (Philippians 2)

One another (240) (allelon) means each other and speaks of a mutuality or sharing of sentiments between two persons or groups of persons. Allelon is a reciprocal pronoun which denotes that the encouragement and edification is to be a mutual beneficial activity. As each submits, encourages, loves, etc, the other members benefit. This is the God's description and prescription for a body of believers.

One another is a common NT phrase (especially in Paul's letters) with most uses relating to the building up of the body of Christ. As such the "one anothers" in the NT would make an excellent Sunday School study (or topical sermon series), taking time to meditate on each occurrence, asking whether it is being practiced (in the Spirit-note) in your local church and seeking to excel still more (cp Php 1:9, 10, 11 -notes; 1Th 3:12-note, 1Th 4:1-note, 1Th 4:10-note). Below is a list of the NT uses of one another (be sure to check the context for the most accurate interpretation).

Ro 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13, 19; 15:5, 7, 14; 16:16; 1Co 6:7; 7:5; 11:33; 12:25; 16:20; 2Co 13:12; Ga 5:13, 15, 26; Ep 4:2, 25, 32; 5:19, 21; Php 2:3; Col 3:9, 13, 16; 1Th 3:12; 4:9, 18; 5:11, 13, 15; 2Th 1:3; Heb 3:13; 10:24, 25; James 4:11; 5:9, 16; 1Pe 1:22; 4:8, 9, 10; 5:5, 14; 1Jn 1:7; 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2Jn 1:5

More important (5242) (huperecho from hupér = above, over + écho = have) literally means to have or hold over over, to have over and beyond, to excel, to be exceptionally valuable, to surpass in value, to be better or superior. In secular Greek it was used to describe a protector.

It means to stand out, rise above, overtop (Homer Iliad 3, 210). Figuratively it means to be in a controlling position, have power over, be in authority (over), be highly placed, to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power (1Pe 2:13), of magistrates (higher power as in Ro 13:1), of prominent men, such as rulers and kings (Polybius). The other sense of huperecho is to excel, to be superior (to someone), to be better than (Php 2:3) or excellency/surpassing worth (Php 3:8).

Paul's use of the present tense speaks of a "holding more important" as one's habitual attitude (which may be manifest in one's action) a as lifestyle (like it was with Christ - who continually had this attitude!). The active voice calls a volitional choice to be made, a choice of my will to continually hold others to be better. To regard others as more important than ourselves is completely foreign to our fallen human nature and can only be accomplished by the power of the indwelling Spirit in believers who surrender to His control.

Huperecho - 5x in 5v - Ro 13:1-note; Phil 2:3; Php 3:8-note; Php 4:7-note; 1Pet 2:13-note. NAS = governing(1), in authority(1), more important(1), surpasses(1), surpassing value(1).

Huperecho - 13x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Ge 25:23; 39:9; 41:40; Ex 26:13; Lev 25:27; Jdg 5:25; 1Kgs 8:8; 2 Chr 5:9; Dan 5:11; 7:23

Don't misinterpret what Paul is saying. His exhortation does not mean that we are to have a denigrating or disparaging view of our own gifts or talents. For example, you may be a much better singer than someone else. Paul is not saying to think of yourself as an inferior singer but to consider the other person as deserving of preferential treatment in general. The upshot is that our consideration for others must precede our concern for ourselves. You've probably seen the little acronym for "joy" - J (Jesus) O (others) Y (yourself).

Paul calls for a similar attitude in (Ro 12:10-note)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor (leading the way in showing the honor that is due). (NRSV puts it "outdo one another in showing honor") (Ro 12:10-note)

The parallel thought is expressed in (Gal 5:13, Eph 4:2-note; Ep 5:21-note; 1Pet 5:5-note).

Jamieson gives this advice on putting this rule into practice: Instead of fixing your eyes on those points in which you excel, fix them on those in which your neighbor excels you: this is true "humility.

Henry adds that we need to "be severe upon our own faults and charitable in our judgments of others, be quick in observing our own defects and infirmities, but ready to overlook and make favourable allowances for the defects of others. We must esteem the good which is in others above that which is in ourselves; for we best know our own unworthiness and imperfections.

The Wuest translation says that when regarding one another as more important, we should rest this estimation "not upon feelings or sentiment, but upon a due consideration of facts." (Philippians Commentary - Verse by Verse Comments Online)

Barnes has a well worded note explaining that regarding one another as more important than self "is one of the effects produced by true humility, and it naturally exists in every truly modest mind. We are sensible of our own defects, but we have not the same clear view of the defects of others. We see our own hearts; we are conscious of the great corruption there; we have painful evidence of the impurity of the motives which often actuate us - of the evil thoughts and corrupt desires in our own souls; but we have not the same view of the errors, defects, and follies of others. We can see only their outward conduct; but, in our own case, we can look within. It is natural for those who have any just sense of the depravity of their own souls, charitably to hope that it is not so with others, and to believe that they have purer hearts. This will lead us to feel that they are worthy of more respect than we are. Hence, this is always the characteristic of modesty and humility - graces which the gospel is eminently suited to produce. A truly pious man will be always, therefore, an humble man, and will wish that others should be preferred in office and honor to himself. Of course, this will not make him blind to the defects of others when they are manifested; but he will be himself retiring, modest, unambitious, unobtrusive. This rule of Christianity would strike a blow at all the ambition of the world. It would rebuke the love of office and would produce universal contentment in any low condition of life where the providence of God may have cast our lot. (Philippians 2)

Wiersbe sums up this section with the thought that "Paul is saying to the church, “Your disagreements reveal that there is a spiritual problem in your fellowship. It isn’t going to be solved by rules or threats; it’s going to be solved when your hearts are right with Christ and with each other.” Paul wanted them to see that the basic cause was selfishness, and the cause of selfishness is pride. There can be no joy in the life of the Christian who puts himself above others. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

If we have the single mind of Philippians 1, then we will have no problem with the submissive mind of Philippians 2.

To further bring home his point to the saints at Philippi, Paul proceeds to give four illustrations of those who obeyed the command to have a submissive (humble) mind -- Jesus Christ (Php 2:5-11), Paul himself (Php 2:17), Timothy (Php 2:19-23); Epaphroditus (Php 2:25-30). What a contrast this prevalent mindset that characterizes the "last days" that we are living in today! (2Ti 3:1,2, 3, 4-ee notes 2Ti 3:1-2, 3-5)

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NOTHING THROUGH SELFISH AMBITION - The aquatic creature called the blowfish has no particular value to the one who catches it—except that it may help to develop the angler's patience because it often seizes bait intended for better fish. The blowfish is unattractive; it has a large mouth and a wrinkled body that looks like worn-out leather. When you turn it over and tickle it, the flabby fish puffs up until it is swollen like a globe.

People can be like that. A little flattery, a little tickling of their vanity and they swell up, giving the semblance of greatness. Pride inflates them, and they puff up like the blowfish. But there's nothing substantial about them; they are all air.

This condition takes other forms with more serious consequences. For example, the Christians to whom Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 5 were tolerating immorality. Instead of being grieved over sin in their midst, they were actually "puffed up" (1Cor 5:2). Here was a sure sign of carnality and immaturity—they were proud when they should have been mourning. God desires that we be "built up" in Christ—never "puffed up" with pride.

The continual attitude of God's children should be the one Paul rec­ommended to the Philippians. He said, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Phil. 2:3). If we take this seriously, we won't have the characteristics of the puffed-up blowfish. —P. R. Van Gorder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The smaller we become, the more room God has to work.

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Running For Others - Tom Knapp never won a race during his entire high school track career. Tom was a "pusher." It was his task to set the pace for his fellow team members, who would then beat him to the finish line. When he ran a successful race, he was enabling a fellow teammate to win. Even though Tom never had enough reserve energy for the final sprint to victory, the coach considered him a valuable member of the team.

In a similar way, the New Testament tells us to run our race of faith with the success of others in mind. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3, 4). Our example of such living is Jesus Christ, who left the glory of heaven to share our humanity and die on the cross so that we can have eternal life (Php 2:5-8).

If the encouragement of our example helps another person to flourish and be successful, we should rejoice. When the eternal prizes are awarded for faithful service to God, a lot of "pushers" will be wearing blue ribbons. Until then, let's keep running so that others can win. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Oh, to see the needs of others
More important than our own,
Following our Lord's example
When He left His heavenly throne. —Sper

You can't lose when you help others win

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EACH year a small number of baseball superstars think they aren't being properly appreciated by their teams' owners. They are dissatisfied with their salaries even though they make more money in one year than most of us do in a lifetime. Their discontent is based on comparison. Each player considers him-self the best at his position and therefore thinks he should receive the largest salary.

Before the advent of multimillion dollar sports contracts, C. S. Lewis made this insightful, almost prophetic, comment: "We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or clev­erer, or better looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking, there would be nothing to be proud about."

Pride afflicts all of us, not just the rich and famous. It is pride that causes us to feel hurt when someone snubs us, ignores us, or takes credit for something we did. Pride is behind the envy we feel toward people who are more successful than we are.

Christ's solution for pride is the only cure: consider others better than ourselves.—H V Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

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GAIN BY GIVING - "The generous soul will be made rich, andhe who waters will also be watered himself."-- Proverbs 11:25

A visitor to a lighthouse said to the keeper, "Aren't you afraid to live here with the storms and high winds constantly lashing the walls?"

"Oh, we have to be more concerned about those out on the sea," the man replied. "We think only of having our lamps burning brightly and keeping the reflectors clear so that those in greater danger may be saved."

We too are to be more concerned about others than we are about ourselves (Phil. 2:3, 4). Generosity and selflessness produce an abundant life of joy and rich reward. According to the Scriptures, if we give freely to others, we will receive abundant blessing.

Proverbs 11 teaches that a person who gives to others will gain even more (Pr 11:24, 25). Pr 11:25 paints a word picture to make the point. It states that "he who waters will also be watered himself."

The 19th-century preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, "Let me consider the poor, and the Lord will also recompense me. Let me water His garden, and He will make a well-irrigated garden of my soul."

As we focus our attention on giving refreshing help to the needy, we will be refreshed by the Lord. -- Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Service is working and giving,
And not regretting the cost;
It's knowing and understanding
That no good deed will be lost.

When it comes to helping others,
some people stop at nothing

Philippians 2:4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: me ta heauton hekastos skopountes, (PAPMPN) alla [kai] ta heteron hekastoi.

Amplified: Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Phillips : None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people's point of view. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Robertson: Not keeping an eye on the main chance for number one, but for the good of others.

Wuest: Not consulting each one his own interests only, but also each one the interests of others. (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: each not to your own look ye, but each also to the things of others.

DO NOT MERELY LOOK OUT FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL INTERESTS: me ta heauton hekastos skopountes (PAPMPN) me ta heauton hekastos skopountes (PAPMPN): (Mt 18:6 Ro 12:15 14:19, 20, 21, 22, 15:1 1Co 8:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 10:24,32,33, 12:22, 23, 24, 25, 26)

Let not every man regard his own wants, his own interests (Lightfoot)

Do not be always concentrating each on your own interests (Barclay)

Don't think only about your own affairs (NLT),

Not looking everyone to his private good (BBE),

Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests (Amp),

Not keeping an eye on the main chance for number one (Robertson)

In this passage Paul continues his discourse on selflessness. His point is that if we are truly looking out for interests of other we will be exalting them and lowering ourselves and this will facilitate unity in the body.

As Edwards rightly observes "What hard words these are! Our souls know they are true but plead with us not to take them seriously. If we followed these injunctions it appears that all we hold precious would be thrown out the window. After all, if we no longer exalted ourselves then who would there be to exalt us? And if we lived only for the benefit of others, who would watch out for us? Our problem is that we want to be called a "living sacrifice" without dying on the altar of servanthood." (Philippians Sermon)

Look (4648) (skopeo [word study] from skopos = distant mark looked at, goal or in view; cf our English word "scope") means to look at and is not just a casual glance but indicates a fixing of one's attention upon with desire for and interest in. It means to regard as one’s aim.

Skopeo - 6x in 6v - Lk 11:35; Ro 16:17; 2Cor 4:18-note; Gal 6:1; Phil 2:4; 3:17 NAS - keep your eye on(1), look(2), looking(1), observe(1), watch(1).

Look is in present tense which means we are not to make this the habit of our life (to look after our own affairs to the exclusion of everyone else's). The verb form in context conveys the force of an imperative or a command. One could paraphrase it

Don't continually let your care and attention be wholly absorbed by your own concerns". Don't fix your focus on your needs and importance but on that of others.

The thought is that

one must not fix his eye (like the runner does on the goal) upon his own interests to the exclusion of those of others. (A T Robertson).

Paul is explaining how humility can be expressed as he exhorts the saints not to keep keeping their eye on the main chance for number one but on those things which are for the good of others. This action is not natural but only supernaturally possible.

Henry adds that

a selfish spirit is destructive of Christian love. We must be concerned not only for our own credit, and ease, and safety, but for those of others also; and rejoice in the prosperity of others as truly as in our own. We must love our neighbour as ourselves, and make his case our own

Augustine got close to Paul's meaning in this section describing

"Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self." (Augustine, The City of God)

BUT ALSO FOR THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS: alla (kai) ta heteron hekastoi: (1Co 13:4,5 2Co 6:3, 11:29, Jas 2:8)

but let him consult also the interests and the wants of others. (Lightfoot)

but let each be equally concerned for the interests of others. (Barclay)

but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing (NLT)

but keeping in mind the things of others (BBE)

Paul is saying that our consideration for others must precede concern for ourselves and will go far toward removing disunity and disharmony.

The KJV Bible Commentary writes that believers are to…

Keep an eye for the good of others. Have respect for, fix your attention upon with a desire for an interest in others. They were to be attentive to the interests of others as well as their own. Every member of the church should practice unselfishness and due consideration for all the others. Others is the keynote of these verses. This was the dominant feature in the life of our Lord who “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). A man of the flesh “looks out for number one,” but a man of the Spirit lives in submission to Christ and in service to his fellowman. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)

Vine adds that "to look with earnest consideration upon the interests of others, is to enter into their feelings and hopes, and to act for their welfare in the spirit of self-forgetfulness. And yet the “also” indicates that one’s own welfare is not entirely to be ruled out of consideration. We are to subordinate our own interests to those of others, but our own are not to be completely ignored; they are to be considered in the spirit of complete unselfishness.

F B Meyer sums up Philippians 2:3-4 observing that…

It recalls the sentence in the book of Chronicles which tells us that every day men came from all Israel with one mind to make David king. So the deepest thought in Christian fellowship, and that which makes us truly one, is the desire to make Jesus King, that He may be loved and honoured, that thousands of souls may bow the knee and confess that He is Lord. Oh! that this were ever the prominent thought among us.

In such an atmosphere, where all love one another and live for the common object of the glory of Jesus, three things follow:

Three Results.

(1) Party spirit dies.--"Let nothing be done through strife or partisanship." (Phil 2:3a). One cannot say, I am of Apollos; another, I am of Cephas; because all are of Christ.

(2) There is absolute humility. (Phil 2:3b) Each thinks the other better than himself. Why? Because each looks upon the best things in another and the worst things in himself; and it is only when you compare what you know yourself to be with what you think others are, that you become absolutely humble. By comparing what we sadly deplore in ourselves with what we admire in others it is not difficult to think everybody better than ourselves. Out of this there comes:

(3) The habit is formed of looking upon other men's things and not upon our own. (Phil 2:4) We acquire a wide sympathy. When we know God we begin to see something of Him in people who have been accustomed to very different surroundings from ourselves. We realise that those who do not belong to our fold may yet belong to the same flock. When we love Christ best it is wonderful how soon we discover Him in people who do not belong to our Church, or denomination, or system, but who also love Him best, are living the same life, and filled with the same spirit. We never relax our loyalty to our special Church, but we enlarge our sympathy to embrace the great Church, the Body of Christ.

Perhaps you have not yet entered the life of love! You do not know what the love of God is--your sin has made you evil and selfish. But if you are willing to abandon your selfish, sinful life, and kneel at the foot of the Cross, asking for forgiveness and salvation, step by step you will enter that experience which we have been describing, and which is in this world as an oasis amid wastes of wilderness sand. (The Epistle to the Philippians) writes that…

The meaning of this passage can be illustrated by one of Jesus' most famous stories: "The Good Samaritan" (Lk 10:30ff). This is the story of the unfortunate traveler who was mugged on the road between Jericho and Jerusalem … thieves beat him, took his money, and left him lying in a ditch. In varying degrees, each one of us is represented by the three groups of people in the story. There were the crooks whose attitude was, "I'll take from you. What's yours is mine. I'll take it." There were the calloused and uncaring ecclesiastics whose attitude was "I'll keep from you. What's mine is mine. I'll keep it." Then there was the one whom Christ said is to be our example, the caring Samaritan whose attitude was "I'll give to you. What's mine is yours. I'll share it." It is the caring Samaritan that teaches us the meaning of looking beyond ourselves, of looking past our own interests and importance to truly see and respond to the needs and worth and interests of others.

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Are you looking out for the interests of others? A young nurse's story illustrates Paul's point…

"During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: 'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?" Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. Absolutely, said the professor. "In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello". I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy." Who is the "Dorothy" in your life who needs your attention?

Others, Lord, yes, others,

Let this my motto be;

Help me to live for others,

That I might live like Thee.
— Charles D. Meigs

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Love Speaks Loudest - Missionary Doug Nichols was a patient in a tuberculosis ward in India in 1967. Patients and staff saw him as a rich American taking up space in their hospital. Their hostility was evident as they refused the gospel tracts he offered them.

One morning at 2 o'clock, a very sick Indian man struggled to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, but he was too weak to make it. Soon the stench from his bed filled the room. Other patients yelled at him. Nurses showed their anger for having to clean up the mess. One slapped him.

The next night the old man tried again to get up, but again fell backward. He began to cry. Doug, weak himself, went over, picked him up, and carried him to the bathroom and back to his bed.

What a change came over that hospital ward! One patient gave Doug a steaming cup of Indian tea, motioning that he wanted a tract. Nurses, interns, and doctors asked for booklets or gospels of John. And several eventually received Christ.

What changed their attitude? Doug had exemplified the Savior, who "made Himself of no reputation" but took "the form of a bondservant" and "humbled Himself" (Phil. 2:7, 8).

We are called to do the same. Sometimes loving is unpleasant, but that's when it speaks the loudest. --D J De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Add to your believing, deeds that prove it true--
Knowing Christ as Savior, make Him Master too;
Follow in His footsteps, go where He has trod,
In the world's great trouble, risk yourself for God. --Leech

Love without action is not love.

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Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others (Phil. 2:4)

I have never been able to forget a story I heard evangelist Paul Rader relate on one occasion. I may not now be able to recall all the details, but so nearly as I remember, it was as follows:

Mr. Rader mentioned having known three ministers, all of whom came from a particular part of the South and were all characterized by a spirit of intense self-abnegation and kindly interest in the needs of others. To one of these Mr. Rader said, "I have known two other men from your part of the country and you have all commended yourselves to me by your unselfishness. How come that you are all so much alike?"

Modestly the preacher answered, "If we have any such marks as you speak of, we owe our unselfishness to a circuit-rider. When we were just boys he used to come to our section every two weeks."

He then went on to describe him as a lean, cadaverous-looking man of the Abraham Lincoln type who, on the first Sunday he preached in the country schoolhouse, gave a sermon in the morning and another in the afternoon. Between the services the ladies of the congregation served a picnic lunch in the open air. Great platters of fried chicken, ham, and other meats were laid out on gleaming white tablecloths; these were surrounded by stacks of biscuits, corn pone, hard-boiled eggs, cakes and other delicacies. When all was ready, the assembled group sat down on the greensward to enjoy the repast.

A number of lively boys were always at the front, hoping to get nearest to the platter of chicken. But on this particular occasion, so great was the crowd, the boys were told to wait until their elders were all served. Angrily they went off back of a nearby shed and indulged in the pastime of shooting dice, in revenge for the unkind way they felt they had been treated. They appointed one lad as a watcher, to keep tab on the way the viands were disappearing.

Ruefully, he told of piles of chicken disappearing: still, more came in from nearby wagons. Suddenly, in great excitement he exclaimed, "Say, look at that preacher! The old squirrel! He's eaten all he could and now when he thinks no one sees him, he's filling those big pockets in the tail of his long coat." All looked angrily and saw it was indeed true.

Just then one of the women exclaimed, "Why, look at the preacher's plate. You all are neglecting him. Hand over the fried chicken." And she heaped his plate up with appetizing pieces; he nibbled a few minutes -- then surreptitiously took two bandana handkerchiefs out of each breast pocket and, filling them with select pieces, stored them away.

Rising with the rest, the preacher backed off, as the boys thought, to hide his "loot" in his baggage. But after moving away from the crowd he turned, and hurried down to the back of the barn where the angry boys were waiting for the second call to lunch. "Boys," he exclaimed, "I was afraid they were forgetting you, so I saved a lot of the white meat and the drumsticks for you." Out came the four clean handkerchiefs and he passed the tender morsels around. The boys were captured. Amazed, they eagerly accepted the proffered dainties.

"This was characteristic of that preacher," said Mr. Rader's friend. "We felt we had found a real friend -- a man who loved other people better than he loved himself. He could do anything with us. He led us all to CHRIST during the years of his ministry among us, sent several out as foreign missionaries, and we three into the ministry at home. It was the unselfish spirit he manifested that gripped our hearts and won our confidence; so that his sermons reached our consciences and brought us to know his SAVIOUR as ours."