A university lectureship director once told a young person who would be socializing with other presenters, “They don’t know who you are. Tell them about yourself.”
How would we behave at that social event? Would following the director’s advice be an example of prideful self-promotion, or might it just be sophisticated pragmatism, or even something else?
Whether or not this is an example of self-centeredness, we have all encountered egotistical characters. Would it be social naiveté or is it spiritual maturity to take seriously: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2)? To what extent should the teaching, “Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well” (Philippians 2:4), impact our behavior?
What can God do with humble selfless obedience to his will?
While individuals focused upon their own selfish ambitions might get through some doors ahead of others, Paul reminded us how God works. As part of the apostle’s effort to inspire us to abandon self-centered agendas with their strife and relational tensions, Paul galvanized our attention upon Christ’s example.
You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8 NET)
So what can God do with such humble, selfless obedience?
As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow” (Philippians 2:9-10).
What can God do with a believer’s humble and selfless obedience? Paul proceeded to remind us that by living out what it means to be God’s saved person results in us being blameless and pure, as those who shine like stars in a dark world.
We might see the arrogant trample down the humble. We might witness a liar getting what he or she wants. And standing beside the Psalmist, we too might lament when those who do not seek God’s will seem to prosper more. However, like the Psalmist, we should remember that these current moments do not provide an accurate measurement of what is valuable nor determine what is best.
Then I entered the precincts of God’s temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked. Surely you put them in slippery places; you bring them down to ruin” (Psalm 73:17-18).
As God’s people we are to be humble, selfless and obedient. God’s power can achieve his purposes with such servants.