Ebeneezer Scrooge, a hopelessly selfish man, experiences a
dramatic turnaround in Charles Dickens's classic, A Christmas
Carol. The story ends with the powerful scene of Scrooge
gleefully showering children with presents, giving a long overdue
raise to Bob Cratchit, and providing money for Tiny Tim's surgery.
Though probably not as selfish as Scrooge, we all sometimes
become preoccupied with ourselves. Fortunately, we don't need to
face three terrifying ghosts to undergo a Scrooge-like
transformation. To escape selfishness, we simply need to adopt the
mind-set of Philippians 2:3-4:
In humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to
the interests of others.
Please do not ask yourself, "Am I familiar with these verses?"
but rather, "Am I obeying these verses? Do I consider
others as more important than myself? Do I focus on their
Like Scrooge after his turnaround, we can experience the
exhilarating joy of loving others. This joy comes from obeying
verse three before obeying verse four. If you try to obey
verse four by itself, life is anything but exhilarating.
When we look to the interests of others without first counting
them as more important than ourselves, our service to them is
likely to be begrudging, resentful, joyless. However, when we
first count others as more important than ourselves, we want to
bless them. Serving them is an honor. We are energized by God's
joy and God's strength.
In contrast, many people who have no energy to love have
believed the idea that love is a feeling. Often someone seeking a
divorce will say hopelessly, "I just don't love my spouse
anymore." God wants us to realize that love is a decision--a
decision to count another person as more important than ourselves
and to focus on that person's interests. Loving feelings follow
after such a decision is made.
This is not a one-time decision. It must be made thousands
of times. It must become our mind-set.
Most of those who read Philippians 2:3-4 put it aside without
endeavoring to obey it. If you are one of the few who will take
this segment of God's Word seriously enough to put it into
practice, you will experience a richness of life you never before
(assisted by Brent Wallace)