“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Selfishness doesn’t have to be taught. We all have an innate desire to put our wants and needs before anything or anyone else. So it’s completely against human nature to view others as more important than ourselves. Yet, overcoming selfishness and self-importance is vital in our relationship with Jesus and in our relationships with one another.
The antidote for selfishness is humility of mind. Warren Wiersbe said, “Humility is not demeaning ourselves and thinking poorly of ourselves. It is simply not thinking of ourselves at all!” He’s not talking about neglecting our health or responsibilities, but training our minds to default to our new nature. In other words, we begin to think with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Philippians 2:4-5 tells us, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” Even though Jesus was God, He emptied and humbled Himself in order to serve other people (vv6-8). There’s no better example of Jesus’ selflessness than when He washed the disciples’ feet, which was typically the job of a servant (John 13:3-17).
Why do we find the idea of humbly serving others so difficult? It’s usually because we’re full of ourselves! Notice that Jesus emptied Himself. He was not consumed with thoughts of His own importance. The disciples, on the other hand, were concerned about their status within the group. Jesus told them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:33-35).
Genuine humility is a willingness to put our own interests on the back burner in service of someone else. It’s prioritizing the needs of others rather than just giving them our leftover time and energy. Anyone can do this occasionally. But humility becomes a way of life by nurturing our new nature rather than indulging the old.
So, what about you? Are you slow to serve others? How often do you dwell on your own status or significance? You cannot walk in unity with Christ and with other believers while defaulting to your old nature. Overcoming selfishness and self-importance requires a humble and disciplined mind. Remember, humility is not thinking less of yourself—it’s thinking of yourself less.