In Philippians 2, Paul has two contrasting imperatives, or commands, tucked into his writings. They’ve shouted at me lately. They are, as the title says Do Nothing and Do Everything.
1. Do Nothing. In verse 3-4, Paul writes “Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only after your own interests, but after the interests of others.”
That means we shouldn’t think that we could do that something better than someone else or that we really know better than them. We shouldn’t have that mindset. We shouldn’t just seek our own agendas each day, but others. And we ought not do things for the credit or be upset when we think we don’t get the credit we deserve. It’s not for show, like a talent show. That’s a fruit of the flesh, a performance mentality. Instead, we’re to look to please Jesus and leave it at that.
Later on in verses 19-21, Paul writes of Timothy that he didn’t have anyone else to send to check on the Philippians because “I have no one else who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
Would someone write that of us? Would we be so busy tending to our own interests that we don’t leave a margin of time and money to look out after the needs of others? If we’re looking out for Kingdom interests, then we will be able to sort out which ones are truly important to invest our time in. So when others are hurting, sick, alone and struggling, it is our business.
2. Do Everything. In Philippians 2:14-16 Paul admonishes them further, saying “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.”
Perhaps he could have added criticizing to that list, which is a twin sister of complaining. When we eliminate complaining, arguing and criticizing from our weapons of choice when things don’t go the way we want them to, then we really stand out as someone different. Are there people who you like to see coming your way because they refresh your soul? They listen without interrupting, they find uplifting things to talk about and they ask how you’re doing, remembering the things that are important to you and inquire about them. In contrast, are there people that come toward you in the grocery aisle and you find yourself subconsciously avoiding them? Perhaps it’s because they’re always negative, tearing others down and talking about themselves, unaware of what’s going on around them?
I certainly don’t want to be in the Debbie downer category for social skills’ sake, but also for Jesus’ sake. If I do everything without complaining and arguing, then I’m living out Jesus in me, at work in me, transforming me from who I’m inclined to be to who He’s making me to be.
So, let’s do nothing and then….do everything