A few years ago Anthony Campolo spoke at a
conference in Hawaii. Because he crossed so many time zones to
get there from his home in Pennsylvania, Anthonyís internal
clock was off kilter.
When the evening sessions were over, it seemed like mid-day.
Because Anthony was still wide awake, he started going to a
little diner after the evening sessions. Each night the same
group of ladies was seated at another table. By the way they
dressed and by the things they said, it was apparent that they
were prostitutes. One night Anthony overheard one of the ladies
tell the others that her birthday was the next day. The ladies
acknowledged her announcement briefly and then went on to other
topics. Anthony started listening carefully to catch the womanís
The next day he had a birthday cake made for her with her name
on the top. After the evening conference was over, he went to
the diner in hopes that the ladies would come back. They did and
after they finished their meal, Anthony approached their table
and put the cake down. They looked up in shock. He said, "Címon
ladies, letís sing to her." As they sang happy birthday to the
woman, tears began to run down her cheeks. She said, "You know,
Iíve never had a birthday cake in my life, and Iíve never had
someone sing happy birthday to me."
I dare say this woman took a step closer to the Kingdom of God
on that day. What caused Anthony to see this opportunity? What
do you think was in his mind? Perhaps Anthony had been
meditating on one of the passages where God challenges us to
break the fixation we have with ourselves. For example,
Philippians 2:4 says, "Let each of you look not only to
his own interests but also to the interests of others."
When I miss opportunities God is giving me to love people, itís
usually not because I shout, "No, I wonít do it!" My
disobedience is more subtle. Too often I just donít notice the
interests of anybody else--because I am so wrapped up in myself.
Philippians 2:4 is an invitation out of self-centeredness. Just
as we control what we look at in the physical realm, we also
control whose interests we look to.
Paul indicated that this outward focus was the reason Timothy
was so valuable in Godís service:
"I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon,
...I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for
your welfare. They all look after their own interests, not those
of Jesus Christ. But Timothy's worth you know... " (Philippians
Looking to the interests of others not only makes our lives
useful, it also causes our hearts to experience Godís joy. After
all, we were not designed to live for ourselves, and we are
miserable as long as we do. I suspect that Anthony had joy in
his heart from the moment he conceived the idea and resolved to
execute it. Proverbs 12:20 says, "Those who plan good
In John 15:11-12 Jesus reveals the secret of how to
"I tell you these things that my joy may be in you and
that your joy may be full. This is my commandment that you love
one another as I have loved you.
Letís do it!