[Don’t look] to your own interests but each of you to the interests of . . . others. Philippians 2:4
A video game, one that’s become a cultural phenomenon, places a hundred players on a virtual island to compete until one player remains. Whenever a player eliminates you from the contest, you can continue to watch through that player’s vantage point. As one journalist notes, “When you step into another player’s shoes and inhabit their point of view, the emotional register . . . shifts from self-preservation to . . . communal solidarity. . . . You begin to feel invested in the stranger who, not too long ago, did you in.”
Transformation happens whenever we open ourselves to see another’s experience, looking beyond our own vision and encountering another’s pain, fear, or hopes. When we follow Jesus’ example and “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” and instead “in humility value others above [our]selves,” then we notice things we would have missed otherwise (Philippians 2:3). Our concerns broaden. We ask different questions. Rather than being preoccupied with only our own needs or angst, we become invested in others’ well-being. Rather than looking to “[our] own interests,” we become committed “to the interests of . . . others” (v. 4). Rather than protecting what we assume we need to thrive, we joyfully pursue whatever helps others flourish.
With this transformed vision, we gain compassion for others. We discover new ways to love our family. We may even make a friend out of an enemy!
How can the Holy Spirit help you avoid becoming small, narrow, or selfish? How do you think God’s inviting you to see others with new eyes?
Jesus, too often what I see is only my fear, my pain, or my lack. Help me to see my sisters and brothers. I want to truly see them and love them.
The word translated “common sharing” in Philippians 2:1 is the Greek word koinonia. Though it’s sometimes translated “fellowship,” words like participation or partnership amplify the ideas of mutual sharing and investment. Sharing in something with someone is what’s in view. Koinonia words show up in the book of Philippians six different times (1:5, 7; 2:1; 3:10; 4:14, 15). Paul’s partnership with the Philippians in ministry, which included mutual investment, is in view in 1:5 and 4:15. “Common sharing in the Spirit” is one of the realities of a community of believers in Christ (2:1). When Paul wrote “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (3:10), he was expressing his desire to more fully experience Christ—even when it meant partaking in painful, unpleasant things.