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‘After you.’ It’s not something you hear very often in our preoccupied, me-first society. Yet, how easy it is to offer a higher place in the queue, your seat on the bus, the chance to go through a road junction first. And what a blessing to receive it!
GREEN: Everywhere you go today, hold the door open for anyone who’s following you.
AMBER: Allow another shopper to go ahead of you at the checkout or let another driver out of a junction.
RED: Continue into the week, looking for opportunities to practice ‘preferring others’. Determine to make this a constant habit.
“I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”Philippians 2:20–21 NIV
“I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:20–21 NIV)
‘Everyone looks out for their own interests.’ It sounds like a cynical assessment of 21st century society or perhaps a convenient excuse for selfish living (‘Everyone else looks out for number one; why shouldn’t I?’). But actually, this is the apostle Paul’s observation and it holds as true in the 1st century as it does in the 21st. As a rule, people say ‘me first’! But in Philippians 2, Paul notices some exceptions.
Firstly, there is Jesus. Incredibly, ‘Christ Jesus… being in very nature God… made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant’ (vv. 5–7). Such service wasn’t a departure from the divine life. According to Paul, it’s an expression of the divine life. To know – to really know – the heart of God, we look to Jesus. In particular we look to Jesus on the cross. And there we find that God is, fundamentally, giver. He’s a fountain of life and we see Him most clearly when He is poured out with every drop of his blood!
The way of God is the opposite to the way of humanity. We, naturally, raise ourselves up. He, supernaturally, stoops down low. Yet in doing so, God desires to sweep us up into His way of radical self-giving. We who usually say ‘me first’ can live the life of the Spirit – the life of poured-out love.
In verses 19–22, Paul notices someone who really gets it: Timothy. Timothy shows genuine concern (v. 20), he looks out for others’ interests (v. 21), he serves (v. 22). He has been swept along in the Spirit’s life of Christ-like, cross-shaped love. And, having worshipped Christ, having seen Timothy, now it’s our turn. With Christ and in Christ, we can renounce the way of ‘me first’. Today we can say, ‘After you!’
Glen is Emma’s husband; he is Ruby and JJ’s dad. He is an author, speaker and filmmaker who directs the ministry Speak Life (internship opportunities at speaklifefoundry.com).
He has written books such as 321, Long Story Short and Reading Between the Lines and can be found on university campuses and on social media trying to make much of Jesus.