Saturday, 31 December 2016
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
These words here continue to explain Paul’s plea of verse 2. He has asked them to be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” In order to fulfill this request, he now adds in, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests.” The word is an exhortation to not be self-consumed, to be a braggart, to be selfish, or to be conceited. The verb translated as “look out” here is described by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon as –
“When the physical sense recedes, equivalent to to fix one’s (mind’s) eye on, direct one’s attention to, a thing in order to get it, or owing to interest in it, or a duty toward it. Hence, often equivalent to aim at, care for, etc.”
In other words, don’t direct your attention to yourself as if you are the center of the universe. Instead, we are to also look out “for the interests of others.” The verb is used just once in the Greek, but it is implied in both clauses none-the-less. We are to carefully look out and direct our attention to the needs of others, aiming for them and then tending to them. Further, the Pulpit Commentary notes that, “The participles esteeming and looking are used with the force of imperatives.” This means these are things we are to actively do, taking Paul’s words as obligations.
However, there is a note to consider here. The word “also” is specifically stated by Paul to show that care of oneself is something we are to actually tend to. We are not to neglect ourselves, and the idea of complete self-denial is not taught in Scripture. Asceticism which is taught by some is wholly unbiblical.
Life application: Paul’s words of this verse, as noted above, are imperatives. We are not to neglect careful attention of others. Instead, we are to actively look out for others and place their needs and interests on a high priority. At the same time, we are not to neglect the care of ourselves, loving our bodies and spirits and thus feeding them properly.
Heavenly Father, help us to fulfill Your word which asks us to not only look out for our own interests, but to place a high priority on looking out for the needs of others, caring for them and helping them as is good and beneficial. It is so easy to get self-consumed and to forget that others have needs as well. But in our zeal to tend to others, give us wisdom to also care for ourselves, especially in spiritual matters. Help us never to neglect feeding ourselves on Your superior word! Amen.