Reviving Your Care for Others
Naturally, we only care for one person: ourselves. Just as a river flows from one way to another, we effortlessly think about ourselves. Paul talks about this common condition throughout his letter to the Philippians.
But not Paul only observes the problem; he invites us to a solution, a way to live the life God intends for us to live. And it’s more fulfilling than we dare to imagine.
Here are four main ideas from Philippians 2:
1. Genuine care for others is rare, but not impossible.
In Philippians 2:20, Paul writes,
“For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests”
What a bleak statement. What a sad reality! But this isn’t the world Paul wishes for us to live in. Glancing at this topic more broadly, Paul gives an exhortation and two examples throughout the chapter.
The exhortation is found in verse 4, saying,
“Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.”
Then, Paul explicitly mentions two people who demonstrate such care. The first is Jesus at the beginning of chapter 2. He proves Jesus’ consistent mindset by looking at his actions throughout His life, death, and resurrection.
The second is Timothy towards the end of the same chapter.
Here, starting in verse 19, Paul writes:
“Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon so that I too may be encouraged by news about you. For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know his proven character, because he has served with me in the gospel ministry like a son with a father. Therefore, I hope to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.”
What’s the difference between our mindset and what Jesus & Timothy thought about?
If we aren’t caring for others, there’s one common reason. It sounds harsh, though. He doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Although it is hard to swallow, it’s painfully true.
2. If we think about others too little, it’s because we are thinking about ourselves too much.
Look at verse 21:
“…all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
Here, in Philippians 2, Paul showcases the difference between a life lived for others and one lived for self. We think about ourselves instead of God and others.
When Paul writes, “…not those of Jesus Christ,” the original audience knew exactly what Jesus’ interests were. They just had heard them earlier in the chapter.
Starting in Philippians 2:4,
“Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus…”
In short, Jesus was interested in the Kingdom of God. Because He was so interested in God, He consistently thought about Him and others.
Timothy’s example shows that it’s possible for us.
How can we get to this sort of mindset? How can we stop thinking about ourselves?
To answer this, however, we must look to a lesson from Jesus found earlier in the Bible.
3. To care for others, we must know we are cared for.
Matthew 6 records part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. In this, He provides hope for the hopelessly introspective soul.
Jesus invites us to stop worrying and fretting and thinking about only ourselves. Gracious and tender, our Savior invites us to a better way of living.
Jesus points out how God cares for the rest of creation by pointing to the birds and grass. Then, Jesus says in Matthew 6:33:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
As we begin to trust God that He is good, powerful, and close, our minds will have a new margin to seek the Kingdom and care for others.
We are free to think about others because we know God is thinking about us.
4. Caring for others resulted in sharing with others.
Timothy & Jesus had more than this mindset in common. They both lived their life for others.
In Acts 16:1-5, we hear the story of how Paul met young Timothy:
“Paul went on to Derbe and Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a believing Jewish woman, but his father was a Greek. The brothers and sisters at Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him. Paul wanted Timothy to go with him; so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they traveled through the towns, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem for the people to observe. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.”
While this account in Acts doesn’t explicitly mention Timothy’s care for the lost, it does mention how he acted towards the lost.
Often, we can understand someone’s attitude by looking at their actions.
Timothy so deeply cared about people that it resulted in his sharing. He dedicated his life to the multiplication and maturation of believers.
He wasn’t alone, though.
In Luke 19:10, Jesus summarizes His mission by telling a diminutive tax collector,
“…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”
How does your life mission compare to Jesus’ mission?
Along with praying that God would give His heart for the lost, here are three practical steps:
- Make a list of people & their needs.
- Set this list inside your Bible or somewhere you will see it regularly.
- Follow up with them to see any updates on what you are praying for.
- Meet up with a friend over a meal.
- Ask them what’s been on their mind or how you can pray for them.
- Whether it be your spouse or small group, find someone like-minded who can ask how the last month went.
- Develop a list of questions where you can celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness while finding areas where you can continue to grow.
In his instant classic, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Timothy Keller writes, “True gospel-humility means I stop connecting every experience, every conversation, with myself. In fact, I stop thinking about myself. The freedom of self-forgetfulness. The blessed rest that only self-forgetfulness brings.”
Blessed rest. Oh, how I want that life! I want that life for you, friend.
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