By Harper Leigh Roberts | Guest Contributor
“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
These words appear almost too fantastical to be true. A world where everyone looks to the interests and welfare of others? Impossible. Today, record rates of loneliness, depression, starvation and displaced people are symptoms of a world that does not look to the interests of others. Yet, it is this exact directive that will change our world in the ways we desperately need it to. These words show us principles for how we can begin to live in a way that heals the world around us.
1. We each must look
Looking is not a passive action. In fact, the Greek origin of this word is “skopos,” which refers to a watchman or mark on which to fix the eye. We get the English word “scope” from this word. With a scope, there is both a direction and attentiveness implied. In order to look, you must know where to set your gaze. It requires you to know where your neighbor, your co-worker, your family member or a stranger on the bus is. Furthermore, it requires you to be attentive to who they are — to really see a person. Consider a moment you felt seen by someone. Maybe they helped you carry groceries into Brooks Residential College when your hands were full or drove you to your internship when you did not have a car. We all want to be seen. Do you know the people you encounter daily? Do you know the people in your class? In other words, this quote is telling us to set our gaze on others.
2. Do so in humility
It is very difficult to take aim at something that is not yourself. A cloud of cares attempts to blind us every day. Nevertheless, Christ calls us to see beyond the fog — to allow light to break into our lives by caring for others. How we are to be enabled to look toward others is inspired by the words of Paul: “In humility regard others as better than yourselves.” An antidote to the self-obsession that plagues our days so often, this call to regard others around us as superior is quite contradictory to the way we have been told is best to think. Yet, it is necessary that we do so. It is necessary to honor each person we encounter. In this way, we can see through to others.
3. Do so all because of Christ
Perhaps the most important question to ask yourself is why. Why should we care for others? What is the motivation for desiring a world that is more just, that cares for those in need, that sees human beings the way we should? In other words, the affections that are driving our gazes in life matter. Paul answers this question of why through the example of Christ.
“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
Paul says to let this kind of mindset, which was in Christ and propelled him to empty his life for others, be in us. Our motivation comes from our affections. Our affections determine our scope. Our scope determines our actions. Our actions determine outcomes for ourselves and the world. This is why our why matters.
How can we begin to look? How can we begin to heal? How can this next year be one in which all of us rise together? By looking. By seeing. By knowing the greatest love there is. Maybe we begin by considering where we should look, where we need humility and where we are setting our loves.