Last week I was invited to join a small group of ladies who had setup their own Zoom call to pray for several people in the church going through difficult times right now. It was hard to think about the physical and emotional pain some in our church are currently experiencing but I was so encouraged to see this small group of ladies take the time and initiative to set up their own Zoom call (and not shy away from the technology) to pray on behalf of others. It was a blessing to see them intercede for those they know are hurting. I know they also support these people in other ways. These ladies, and others like them in our church, are models to me of Christ's selflessness.
My kids get into arguments with each other occasionally (I use the word "occasionally" very loosely) and the follow-up discussion often involves talking about considering the other person first . . . or at least somewhere along the way. Of course putting others first is not just a challenge for our children but for us as well. In so many ways, it's easy for us to get tunnel vision and focus only on ourselves, our problems, our needs, or just those closest to us. I think this pandemic which has served to physically isolate us may even be reinforcing that mindset. I think it is a sign of Christlikeness when we place the interests of others before our own. And I would add that especially when we think about the interests of those outside our own family and friends. Growing less self-focused and placing the interests of my family above my own is one thing. But going beyond my family and friends and prioritizing the needs of others - perhaps those I don't know very well or those who are different than me - is taking it to another level. Isn't it? But this is God's call.
Paul speaks of this selflessness to the church in Philippians 2:1-4: "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, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Here in this passage, Paul calls for unity among believers, given that we've been united with Christ and covered in His love, and he calls for selflessness toward others by placing their interests before our own. He uses Christ as our model and urges us to have the servant attitude that Jesus had for the sake of others.
What does this look like? Well this may look very different for each one of us. But let me suggest a few ways to take action. First, ask God to help us take focus off of ourselves. Humility is a key part of selflessness. Then think about whether there's an individual or a group of people that God has placed on your heart or mind recently because you know they have a need or concern. Perhaps God has already revealed this to you. In placing their interests above your own, consider how you might help them with their needs. Take initiative. This might be setting-up a virtual gathering to pray or running an errand for them or providing needed resources. It might mean just calling them to let them know you care. There are many things we could do to look out for the interests of others. But whatever you do, if you do it in the name of the Lord, I believe God will be pleased because He calls us to serve one another (Romans 12:10: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.") and, like the small group of ladies in our church, you will be exemplifying Christ.
God bless you,