Here in American one of the words that is often used to describe us is “proud.” After all we are a country that has advanced beyond most of the world, whether it is in government, technology, or various other things. We say that we are, “Proud to be an American,” and we teach and instill this pride in every area of our society. Yet while it is alright to have pride in our nation there is a negative side to pride that we have developed as well. Selfishness.

Too often in our society we put ourselves first; we demand our rights and what is due us. In fact within the last sixty years things have gone to the extreme in that our legal system is over worked settling lawsuits that people have brought against each other because they must have their way. We demand that we have our rights and we so often put ourselves ahead of others. However, Paul does not want that to be the case for the church.

In Philippians 2:3 Paul writes to the church with some specific instructions on the type of the attitudes that they should have, both in the community and in the world. The first attitude is that we are not to be selfish. In the original language the term is actually used in a political sense and carries the idea of electioneering – and our modern political system would bear out this understanding very well. Selfishness is simply the idea of putting me ahead of others, I think about me first. Of course this is not the attitude that Paul wants the church to exhibit.

In contrast he says that we are to humbly consider others as more significant than ourselves. As Christians we are familiar with the idea of being humble, after all, we had to humble ourselves when we asked for God’s forgiveness so that we could become Christians! But that original humble, or contrite, attitude is not something that we simply let go of, rather it is something that we should be growing in more and more. And it is in that humble attitude that we should consider others. Does this mean then that we are not ever to think about ourselves? This is answered in verse 4.

Paul is very clear in this verse that we are to indeed consider ourselves, but that we do not do so in a vacuum. Another problem of the American society is that we are a very individualistic people; we place a lot of value on the individual to the exclusion of the group. Yet the church is not just a group of individual people – we are a body! We are to think of each other even to the point of putting another ahead of ourselves. So how does this look? Are we to be door mats allowing others to walk all over us? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean either that we disregard others out of hand. If someone has an interest we need to consider that interest as well along with our own interests. An easy example is the case of alcohol: the Bible is very clear that it is within the moral confines of Scripture to consume alcohol as long as one is not getting drunk. So then when I go out to a restaurant it would be morally acceptable for me to have a glass of wine with my steak, however, what about those of our brothers and sisters that struggle with alcohol abuse? Again it is morally allowed within the bounds of God’s law, but it may not be in the best interest of my brothers and sisters. This of course is just one example and we will have to consider the various ways in which this teaching can be applied to our lives.

The end of the matter is this: we as a community should be a group that is humble and thinks of others as more significant than ourselves. After all that is the very attitude that Christ displayed which the rest of this chapter goes on to explain.