“DO NOT MERELY LOOK OUT FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL INTERESTS, BUT ALSO FOR THE INTERESTS OF OTHERS” (PHILIPPIANS 2:4).
The Lord wants us to have a general but sincere concern for the ministry interests of fellow Christians.
We live in a world that is preoccupied with special interests. On the national and international levels, interest groups push for public acceptance of their particular agendas. Likewise, on the local level most people care only about their own personal interests. They’re concerned about their jobs, their families, their hobbies, and perhaps their favorite sports team. In addition to those, if you’re a Christian, you will be concerned about your local church. But even there you can become focused only on your area of ministry.
In today’s verse, the apostle Paul cautions us, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests.” He is warning first of all that we shouldn’t see our personal activities and ministries as our only goals in life. When we become narrowly preoccupied with our own things, it can cause conflicts and other problems with people we know. Instead, God wants us to have a serious, caring involvement in some of the goals others are concerned about. And one way that will happen is if we take our eyes off ourselves and our often excessive concern for self-esteem in everything we do.
You may wonder exactly what Paul meant by the broad term “interests.” It is a nonspecific word that has several meanings and implications. It includes legitimate goals and responsibilities you have as a Christian, but it also extends to the same kinds of concerns others in your church and family will have. Their needs, tasks, gifts, character qualities, and ministries should be considered equal in importance to yours.
Paul, by the Holy Spirit, is calling us to pursue a high standard of Christian living, but the standard is worth pursuing. The more we understand the importance of fellow believers and that they need our prayer and concern, the less our fellowships will be plagued by unscriptural competitiveness and pride of personal interest.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask the Lord to help you order your priorities today, so that you’ll have time for involvement in the concerns of a Christian friend or relative.
For Further Study
Read Luke 10:38-42.
• What was Martha’s attitude regarding the interests of her sister?
• What do Jesus’ words to Martha say about where our ultimate interest should lie?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.