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Look to the Interests of Others

Posted On February 6, 2019

Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

I am an introvert.

I can, and often do, go for days without much social interaction. For some reason, being in groups larger than three or four can drain me. I love the silence and solitude a closed door, and a book in my hand brings.

But I often use that as an excuse to hide my selfishness.

I do not like interruptions. It annoys me when I have to put down my book or pen or look up from my phone or computer screen and engage in conversation. There is a reason I often wear earbuds when I visit my local coffee shop. I find I’m more likely to be interrupted with a simple wave and a smile when my ears are already filled, than when they are not protected from outside words.

Empty ears invite conversation. Conversation often leads to requests. And requests mean time away from doing things I want to do. Namely, reading and not being bothered while reading.

My own interests in reading a great book or typing out a story or article usually take more importance than the interruption of a member of the church. I am not only an introvert but a selfish one at that. That, I readily confess.

What I know about Paul’s command to look after the interests of others does not harmonize with what I do when the opportunity to follow the command arises. I see the command. I agree with the command. I want to obey the command; I also want to finish the chapter of this book I’m reading before the shop closes.

My own interests take priority. My actions betray my words. Again, I confess.

God does not allow us to wallow long in our convicted cognitive dissonance. God will complete the work He began (Philippians 1:6), and He will work in and through us for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12). His discipline, though painful at times, will bring about a harvest of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). Thankfully, He disciplines whom He loves.

Read the Gospels and try to count the number of times Christ was interrupted amid traveling somewhere or doing something else. You’ll soon lose count. Interruptions from His followers asking doctrinal questions, interruptions from Pharisees looking to trap Him in a question, interruptions from strangers and friends looking for Him to heal. It seems most of Christ’s ministry consisted of teaching and healing born from an interruption.

How did Christ respond?

He came to earth to do His Father’s will (John 6:38). Considering God is sovereign, that will included all the times Christ was interrupted. There is no such thing as a chance encounter. When we see each interruption as orchestrated by God, we will view them more as Christ did on earth and begin to respond to them in a more Christ-like manner.

The Holy Spirit frequently works to bring truths like these to remembrance when we forget or neglect them (John 14:26). I read the command in the following verse (Philippians 2:5) to have the mind of Christ, and I am reminded it’s already mine in Christ Jesus. I am then given a refresher into the example of Christ’s great example of humility when He emptied Himself, though He was in the form of God, to live a life of sorrow and die for my sins on that old rugged cross. He was in the very form of God; I am not. He created all things; I did not. I can humble myself to take time out of my day to look after the interests of others. It’s what Christ did, and it’s what every Christian should do.

Commanded, convicted, and encouraged, I am well-equipped when I see a member of the church walk through the doors of my coffee shop, to close my book, remove my earbuds, and get up to say “hello”, and welcome any and all interruptions God brings my way.

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