How to Step Forward in Christ from Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3 

The strain of my life these days is made up of the battle between the warped me wanting to do whatever I want to do and the renewed me wanting to follow Christ. Yet I am so keenly aware of the many times this warped me wins out. Selfish ambition, the desire to do have things my way, to experience personal profits and gains and to WIN, this is what I find myself giving into. Selfish ambition tells me I don’t need to apologize for my part of an unkind conversation. Selfish ambition encourages me to loathe others and to give in to my feelings rather than what’s true, including God’s promises.

Paul tells us to do nothing out of selfish ambition. To do nothing out of vain conceit.

That’s another one I battle with. I refused to wear my glasses the other day completely out of vain conceit. My hubby and friends and I joked about it, but the truth wasn’t lost on me. My care about what others thought about me wearing glasses drove me to make a decision that could have hurt my vision and that could have jeopardized our lives even at one point. My vain conceit tells me to focus on the parts of me that I don’t like and to OBSESS about them, about getting rid of them, about hiding them. My vain conceit redirects my attention from the gifts of God and turns them into reasons to hate myself.

In humility value others above yourselves. I’m selective about this one. It’s true that I often take what others want and think into consideration, above my own desires. But the truth isn’t because I’m naturally humble. The truth is that I do this because I am naturally terrified of someone having a negative thought about me. What’s ironic is that I know in nine out of ten cases my decision doesn’t even register in their minds. This isn’t the kind of humility Christ calls us to. Valuing others above ourselves looks like acknowledging others, reaching out to them, offering to help, listening to their stories…it stops us from the constant tumble of judgment and analysis, that constant invisible mesh we as women are always putting our friends and foes through. We look out for the interests of others above our own, not because we want to make them happy (and make ourselves happy as a result) but because we are looking to please God. Is there applause coming back to you as a result of doing something for someone else? Is there some praise or recognition? Is there some thing coming back that will inflate your ego? Some thing that will inordinately puff you up?

For the last couple months I’ve been stuck in a pondering, wondering place, too nervous to actually step forward into my own thoughts. I haven’t really wanted to see what’s been going on behind the scenes. I’ve taken some leaps and followed the direction of the Lord in some things, but I have stayed at the pondering, wondering level for too long. This has translated into me thinking too often, too highly and too obsessively about the Lord’s calling. Yes, He’s called me to do X, but I don’t need to be still months later thinking about the possibilities and outcomes from those initial decisions. I need to keep going. A runner wouldn’t stay at the starting line running in place for more than pre-race moments–so why am I still running in place when the race has started?

At some point you just have to go. You made the decision to commit and you need to start on that path, get going in that race. If you know that God has called you to that decision, take those next steps. Do nothing out of selfish ambition though. As you take those steps, test them through the fire of drive–is that desire or decision or specific action one driven by selfish ambition or godly ambition? As I plunge into leading others I ask myself, Am I doing this to improve how others think about me? I know the answer is no. I know that I am doing that to help others, specifically to share how the Lord has helped me. He’s gifted me with the ability to teach, to connect with others and to encourage others–that is not of my own warped way, that is of the renewed me.

Do nothing out of vain conceit. When I add a thought, post a picture, select a meme, whatever it is that I do, I realize the call to test even those and specifically those actions through the fire too. And not only should I not do out of vain conceit, but I should also not react out of the same. Am I affected because no one was blown away by my last blog post? Am I upset because I didn’t get the response to a new initiative or picture or whatever that I posted? If my disappointment is connected at all to my self perception and vanity, that is not the response God is calling me to have.

Looking to the interests of others is not always a natural response. It certainly isn’t a natural one when it comes to the crooked us–that “old man” that Paul talks about in the New Testament. We are called to put on a new nature, and to abide in Christ. Am I making decisions to promote myself or to intersect with the needs, the gospel needs and more, of others? These are hard questions, but they are important ones. They push me out of the hovering layer of wondering and pondering and into the hard and fast world of doing and acting. They force my thoughts and actions into the fire and press me toward alignment with Christ. God’s words have a way of doing that.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3

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