Is God Asking the Impossible?

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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 others.” Philippians 1:1-4

Value others above myself? I tend to focus on me. Paul, writer of much of the New Testament, admonishes us to do nothing from a self-first or prideful attitude. It feels like he’s asking us to achieve the impossible. Does God expect Christians to always be unselfish? He knows we’re incapable of living this way in our own strength. 

Trying to live like Christ by sheer effort leaves me frustrated and ineffective. I continually default to self-focus. This passage usually discourages me because I struggle with pride. I’m unable to imagine what a world of humble people would look like. Too often, even when I’m able to obey and act charitably, inside I’m still thinking of self. 

So how can we value others over ourselves? We achieve such kind-hearted living one step at a time as we look to Jesus and depend on His Spirit in us. If we could make a one-time decision to be humble, we wouldn’t need God. He wants us to listen to Him and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in each encounter. I must make this choice step by step, seeking to have the mind of Christ day after day. 

Paul reminds us that we are one with Jesus: The One who gives us encouragement, comforts us with His love, and fills us with His Spirit. Because His Spirit lives in us, He gives us the grace and humility to unite with other believers in spite of our diversity.

God calls us to choose to consider others before ourselves: not in the sense of being a weakling, but by acting from the love we’ve received. 

When we’re tempted by selfishness, we find freedom not by our own goodness but by relying on God. We connect to Jesus through prayer, read His Instructions in the Bible, and ask for the grace to obey. He then works through us, helping us to have the same mind as He does.

We won’t live up to this perfectly, but as we focus on Christ and yield to His Spirit, we will grow in loving others. 


Excerpt from the Wholly Loved Bible reading plan: Philippians: 14 Days of Hope and Encouragement  found on YouVersion
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