Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4
Do everything without grumbling or questioning. Philippians 2:14
Paul gives us two contrasting commands in Philippians 2. They are linked with what it looks like to live a life worthy of the gospel, from Philippians 1:27.
1. Do Nothing. In verses 3-4 Paul tells us what a lifestyle of humility looks like, doing nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but counting others more significant than ourselves. That means we shouldn’t think that we could do things so much better than someone else, or that we know so much more. That would give us a mindset of conceit or arrogance. Nor should we do things out of competition with someone else, trying to make us look better than others. Have you ever just showed off because you could?
News flash: We don’t have to be the center of attention. We can let others talk way more than what we do. We can give up our agenda for someone else’s. We can let others get the credit for things. We don’t have to be first or to have the best seat.
Later on in chapter 2, Paul said he was hoping to send Timothy to them to see how they were doing. In verses 20-21 Paul said, “I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” That’s who we should be like–Timothy. We should be genuinely concerned for the welfare of others, leaving margin in our lives so we have time and energy to actually do something. We should be seeking the interests of Jesus Christ ahead of our own agendas and interests.
2. Do everything. In Phil. 2:14 Paul instructs us to do everything without grumbling or questioning, or as the NIV puts it–without complaining. It would be interesting to count how many times we complain in a day. And when we don’t complain or grumble, then people will sit up and notice that we are different because Jesus lives in us. You could add criticizing to the list. Isn’t criticizing saying “I could do it so much better.”?
As you read past verse 14, you’ll find that Paul notes that when we live like that, we are shining as lights in a dark world, actually a crooked and twisted generation. It may not be easy in ourselves to not grumble, question, complain or criticize, but the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24 lists joy, goodness, and self control. That means that as the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, He keeps those negative tendencies in check. God gives us a thankful heart that looks for the good in others.
Now that is radical!