Skip Heitzig - #selfiesunday
Philippians Chapter 2 Verse 1, 'Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any affection in mercy, fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind. Let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out, not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.' We are not the center of the universe. The world does not revolve around us.
Now that is a revolutionary thought. Back in the 15th century there was an astronomer by the name of Nicholas Copernicus, who in observing the universe made a statement that revolutionized the whole world. Up to that point everyone thought that the Earth was the center and the sun and everything else rotated around us. So he said this, 'If a man is to know the truth he must change his thinking. Despite what we have said for years our Earth is not the center of the cosmos, but just one celestial body among many. The sun does not move around us, we move around the sun.' What you gotta know is when he made that statement, not a lot of people believed that. They thought, he's wrong, that can't be right. We are the center of the world. It was revolutionary. It's the Copernican revolution.
Now that was in the 15th century. In the 20th century, a Swiss psychologist by the name of Jean Piaget, who studied children, kids, not stars, but kids, said, 'Each child must experience his or her own Copernican revolution.' He said, 'They must learn they are not the center of their world.' So we know what that's like. Every infant thinks, my desires have always been met. Life must continue that way. They think walls should move out of the way before I run into them. They think floors should become soft when I fall onto them. They think everyone should give me their toys when I ask for them. Cars should never drive where I want to play or run.
But sooner or later life doesn't cooperate with those children and they have a revolution. A Copernican revolution. It's like duh, the world doesn't revolve around me. I am one of many. Well, I think we all need a revolution. We all need a Copernican revolution. We're not the center of the universe. It's been said that we live in the age of self. It's all about self. Self realization, self determination, self esteem, self help. There's even a magazine called Self. It's all about myself, my individual options, as opposed to the group.
Not only is it the age of self, as you have seen in the little video, it's the age of the selfie. The picture I take of myself, the self portrait of me in a certain place to prove I was in that place or with a person to prove that I was with that person. One description of a selfie I found was this, it's an instant visual communication of where we are, what we're doing, who we think we are, and who we think is watching. That's a selfie. Selfies are sometimes taken in front of mirrors, sometimes they are taken with selfie sticks, there's even a website called selfie.com that will help you master the art, that fine art of self portraiture.
A typical selfie might be a guy flexing his muscles, or a girl, and it's always this pose, one hand on the waist, and then they do duck face, pouty lips, you know. It's freakish really. You want to take a wild guess how many selfies are taken every day? You ready for this? 93 million selfies are taken and posted every day world wide. 93 million selfies are taken and posted every day. The average millennial, and I'm not picking on millennials I'm just giving you the stats. You know what a millennial is? Somebody between the ages of 18 and 34, that's the new classification, the millennial. The average millennial will take 25,700 selfies in a lifetime. That's a lot of selfies.
And further stats, females between the ages of 16 and 25 spend five hours a week with selfies. I don't know how they compiled that and I'm not picking on any group. That's just what I found. Not only can it be narcissistic, it can be dangerous. In the year 2015, there were more deaths by selfie then by shark attacks worldwide. True story. You go death by self? Yeah. You know picture, people want just the right picture. So they might get too close to the edge of something. Or they might jump too close to the action of a certain event, and they put their life at risk. More people died in 2015 taking selfies than those who died in shark attacks. I wonder if they're going to have Selfie Week like they have Shark Week now on television.
Well, Philippians chapter 2 is the answer to all that. We have in the first four versus the marks and the motives of self-less living. The marks and the motives of selfless living. Now just, let me give this to you briefly and we'll pass on, because I don't want to get stuck in the weeds. The way it is written, these first four verses of Philippians 2, in the original language it's one long sentence. One long complex sentence. And the way Paul writes it he writes it with a conditional clause. An if then clause. If this is true, then this should follow. That's how it's written.
So he begins with the premise the if, if, if, and then he gets to the main clause, then, then, then. What I want to do is begin with the main clause, which is the what to do, and then end with the premise, which is the why to do it. So we have the marks and the motives of selfless living. Verse 3 is the main heartbeat of what he is saying, 'Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.' This is the revolution. This is the Copernican, or better yet, Christian revolution. That I am not the center of the universe.
So what he gives us here are two things not to do, they're put in the negative, and then one thing to do. And here's what I want you to pick up on. The two things not to do are the two things that got Satan kicked out of heaven. Selfish ambition and conceit. That was from the very beginning that got him booted out of God's heaven. You might say then, Satan took the first selfie. It's described in Isaiah chapter 14 where Satan says, 'I will ascended into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most high.'
It's like Satan, here I am in heaven, click, selfie. So, I'll personalize it. We are never more like the devil than when we practice these first two negatives, selfish ambition and conceit. But we are never more like Jesus than when we practice the third one, which is the remedy, lowliness of mind. That is the mind of Christ as we'll see and mention in just a minute.
So let's begin with these marks of selfless living, and I'll put them in two don'ts and one do. Because two are in negative and one is in the positive. Don't live selfishly. That's obvious. Don't let's live selfishly. Let nothing, verse 3, be done through selfish ambition. Now I think everyone here knows what selfishness is. We all know what selfishness is. This is no revelation to us. We all get it. I'll further say, if you have kids you understand what selfishness is. Or you are reintroduced to the concept of a self-centered universe. This is before the revolution.
I heard a story of a mom cooking pancakes for her two boys. One was age 5 one was aged 3. Kevin was the five-year-old, Ryan was the three-year-old. She's cooking pancakes. Well the kids immediately start fighting as to who's going to get the first pancake. And so she saw this as an opportunity, a teaching moment. And she says boys, if Jesus was here right now he would probably say I'm going to let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.
Well the five-year-old, Kevin, immediately quick on his feet said, Ryan, you be Jesus. You be like Jesus. Me first. But you know this, not only if you have kids, you know this if you have parents. Which obviously you all do. You know this if you know any human being. You know this if you know yourself well enough. Selfishness or selfish ambition it is translated in verse 3. Here's what I found interesting. The original Greek term translated here, selfish ambition, is a word, eritheia or eritheon originally had a positive, not a negative, connotation. Originally the word simply described a day laborer. Somebody who went out and worked for a day and got paid for his work.
But eventually the meaning morphed into somebody who was a mercenary. That is, he would work for someone irregardless of what that person paid him to do, even if it was for some bad reason. I'll just work and do whatever you want, as long as I get paid for it. So the name, or the word, morphed even further, and came to mean the self seeking advantage over others regardless of the effect that it had on others.
Selfish ambition. Aristotle used the word of the unfair pursuit and self-serving ambition of politicians. I just wanted to throw that out in political season, because that is how politics works. I will step on the neck of my opponent to get to the top and win. I just want to win. It's all about me winning. So selfishness then refers to someone who advances himself or herself by any means at all. Just to get to the top. It is the me first philosophy. The all about me, I'm the center of the universe, philosophy.
It's planted in the heart of every child, and it sticks with that child as they grow up to adulthood. It's part of who we... their own importance. I am so awesome. The world needs to discover how awesome I am. This has always been a problem. This is why Paul writes in Romans 12:3, that we ought not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but think soberly. In realistic terms of who we are.
It was a problem not only as Paul wrote to the Romans but when he wrote to the Corinthian church. He wrote about love. You know the chapter, it's the most famous chapter in the New Testament. The love chapter. And he says, 'Love does not parade itself. Love does not puff itself up. Love does not seek its own.' All of that language counteracts the idea of conceit. Exaggerated ideas of our own importance. Whenever you start thinking you're really important, you may want to remember what the mother whale said to the baby whale, 'Honey when you get to the top and start to blow, that's when you'll get harpooned.'
It's all about pride, and pride is the most destructive force. Proverbs 13:10, 'By pride comes nothing but strife.' That's expanded on in Proverbs 16:18, 'Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit goes before a fall.' Somebody once said there's two ways to enter a room, number one, you can enter the room sort of with this attitude, here I am, here I am. The other way to enter the room is go ah, there you are. One is to have people notice me, the other is for me to notice people.
You know the first, here I am man, I am so cool. Come on, check me out. The other is, I'm checking to see how I can be of benefit to you. How did Paul enter a room? Ah, there you are. How do I know this? Because every letter he writes he begins by saying Paul, a slave, a bond slave of Jesus Christ. And in the case of Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy bond servants of Jesus. So he saw himself as a slave of Jesus, and therefore a servant to others. And in this case the church at Philippi.
So, don't live selfishly, don't live pridefully. Now let me give you a third mark, and now we're going from the negative to the positive. Do live humbly. Do live humbly. Notice how he writes it. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit. Those are the two negatives. But, now here's the positive, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Now this is so foreign to our thinking. It is so foreign to our orientation. It is so foreign to how we, in the West especially, have learned to view our individual selves.
Lowliness of mind? Just so it sounds more unfamiliar to you, here's how it's put in the New Testament in basic English. But with the low thoughts of your self, did you get that? With low thoughts of yourself, let each esteem others better than himselves. Low thoughts of yourself? That is so against our upbringing. It's all about self confidence, self determination, self esteem. Paul says no, with low thoughts of yourself, esteem others better than yourselves.
Let me tell you another revolutionary statement. You ready? Pride will make God your enemy. Quickest way to make God your enemy, be prideful. Pride makes God your enemy. Humility makes God your friend. You say, preacher, you got a scripture for that? Yep. The Bible says, 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' God resists the proud. You become God's enemy when you are prideful. That's what got Satan kicked out of heaven. That's the quickest way to emulate the devil is to be prideful, puffed up. But he gives grace to the humble. Humility will make God your friend.
Now, here's what I want you to know about this idea of lowliness of mind. The concept of lowliness was always seen in antiquity as not a virtue but a vice. Something you don't want to be. You don't want to be a lowly person. Especially in the Greek way of thinking. The Greeks sort of prided themselves in being better than every other culture in the world. They were the great, refined Greek culture. And listen to what they called everybody else in the world who wasn't a Greek. A barbarian.
If you're not a Greek you're a barbarian. So whenever they conquered people they turn them into slaves. Groveling slaves. And the term they used were humble minded ones. Low minded ones. That was the idea of a slave. It was never something that you would aspire to become. And so here in the New Testament, it becomes a virtue. That which was seen as something you don't want to be, Paul says no, no, no you want to be that. You want to have a low mind. You want to have a humble mind.
Now why is that? Why would something the world esteems as so important and so virtuous be seen as something bad and something that the world would see as so bad. Low minded. Paul says no, no, no this is how you want to be. Here's why. Because that's how Jesus was. In fact, this becomes his whole point. If we were to keep reading down in verse 5 and the following verses, Paul says, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.' Who being in the form of God, and did not think it robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of no reputation or he emptied himself. Poured himself out. And took on the form of a bond servant.
Here is Jesus in heaven, pours himself out, comes to the earth to humbly sacrifice himself because of our sins. Listen, loneliness is the grease that keeps the gears of relationship running smooth. Loneliness of mind, or humility, is the grease that keeps the gears of relationship running smooth.
So he says, 'Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind or humility of mind let each esteem others better than himself.' I mean honestly, who do you know that does that? I esteem you better than me. Most of us when we meet other people, we won't say it out loud, but we kind of think, I think I'm a little bit better than the are. I'm a little bit smarter than they are. I have a different opinion and my opinion is at little bit better than theirs. We would actually esteem others better than ourselves?
An interesting study I found. I found an article in the Albuquerque Journal and they quoted from health magazine about a study done in California, University of California Riverside, evaluating students about what the students thought about themselves versus what others who knew them thought about them. Worlds apart. In this study the students rated themselves, and gave themselves higher ratings than others on cheerfulness, warmth, and intelligence.
That's how they saw themselves. Cheerful, warm, intelligent. While others saw them, observers saw them, as hostile, deceitful, and condescending. Worlds apart, right? What got my attention was the title of the article. The name of the article was, Study Says Jerks Have Too Much Self-esteem. Isn't that great? Study says jerks have too much self-esteem.
So to counteract that, Paul said, 'Let each esteem others better then himself.' And then he amplifies that in verse 4, 'Let each of you look out '...not like oh look out but look around, study, observe, '...look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.' This is revolutionary. This is where I live my life and I decide I am not the center of the universe. It's not really about me. I'm going to start now observing and looking out for what interests other people. I'm going to be a part of that.
I don't know if you've ever gotten these letters in the mail from credit companies. But it's, typically looks like this, it's a letter, credit card company, and big red letters on the front of the envelope say 'No Interest.' Now, I look at that and I go really, there's a company out there that wants to loan me money and they don't want me to pay any interest on it? That's possible? So that's why you open the letter and read the fine print. You find it's all about the interest.
And now I know when it says on the front of the envelope 'No Interest' what it really means. It means they're not interested in me at all. I have no interest in you at all. None. But I am interested in your money. That's really what it means.
So we're to live our lives not just interested in us, but looking out for the interests of others. It is revolutionary. And that's selfless living, those are the marks.
Now let me give you the motives. Here's the reason why. And I'll give you three reasons why. Because the text gives us three reasons why we are to prefer a self-less life rather than a selfish life.
Reason number one. Because selfishness is all around us. It's part of the world in which we live. Notice how verse 1 begins, what's the first word? Verse 1, anybody? You can talk back in church. This church you can yell at me. First word is therefore. OK. So do you know the rule by now? Whenever there's a therefore, find out what it's there for. Right. You don't begin a thought. I wouldn't begin a conversation with you and go therefore, you go, what are you talking about? Because it's a word that ties back to the previous thought. Right?
So Paul is basing the motives on a previous thought. Don't you want to know what the previous thought is? I knew you did. Verse 27 of chapter one. Chapter 1 verse 27, 'Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ so that whether I come and see you or I am absent I may hear of your affairs. That you stand fast in one spirit.' He's introducing the idea of unity with each other '...with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. And not in any way terrified by your adversaries.' Notice that word. 'Which is to them a proof of perdition but to you of salvation. And that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake. Having the same conflict which you saw in me and now here is in me.'
This is what the therefore is all about. The Church was being persecuted by the world around them. And the persecution came from selfishness. What he is saying is this, the people of this world are consumed with furthering their own agendas, fulfilling their own desires, looking after their own satisfaction. Don't you add to that. Don't be like them. They're persecuting you because they hate your message because it doesn't reflect their values. They're after you because of their own self-centered behavior. Don't you live that way and add to that pile. That's the idea.
And that is why he says you need to be together in unity with each other. Of one mind, of one heart, of one spirit. Folks, this is why it looks so awkward when Christians fight each other. Because that's what the world does. They do that all day long. You don't want to resemble the world. Because selfishness is all around you, don't let selfishness be a part of you. That's what the therefore is there for. He's referring to that. So, because selfishness is all around you. That's a good reason not to be selfish but to be selfless.
Second reason. Because selfishness is opposed to Christ who is in you. When you came to Christ, you invited him to come in. He took you up on the offer, and he came in to sit on the throne of your life, to be in charge of your life. He is in you. So verse 1 says, 'Therefore '...we covered that, 'If there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love '...that is referring to Christ's love. Now stop right there. The word 'if' would be better translated 'since' because the word in Greek could be translated, either 'if' or 'since'. And the meaning here is since. Since it is true that, if there is any consolation in Christ. Since it is true that you are consoled by belonging to Christ.
Are you consoled because you belong to Christ? Does that bring you consolation? Do you ever think about that? That I am saved not because of what I have done, but because of what he's done for me. He received me, he brought me into the fold based on what he did for me. That brings me consolation. He's supposing it does. He's supposing that's true.
If there is any consolation in Christ, or since there is, and since his love is so comforting to you, and I hope it is. I hope you don't go, well God, here I am. I hope you realize how cool I am God because you definitely want to pick me and use me I'm so awesome. I hope your thoughts are, oh the wonder of it all, the wonder of it all, just to think that God loves me. That's the proper attitude. And that brings us great comfort.
Remember the child story of the ugly toad who was really a prince. He was under the spell. And he turned into a toad. And the only way to unturn him, to turn him back to a prince, was for that beautiful princess to kiss the toad. When I first heard that as a kid I went yuck, what girl in their right minds would want to kiss a toad? What girl would? Oh, a toad. I want to kiss it.
Now let's take it to an infinite more, infinitely greater analogy. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. What kind of a father would give his son for the comfort of others? Answer, one who is not selfish. One who is totally self less. Now I say that because this becomes then the basis of new relationships between Christians. New relationships in the church. I accept others because Jesus accepted me. I forgive others because Jesus has forgiven me. That's what he taught us to pray. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Again, you can say it back to me. It's church I can't talk. In this one you can. Appropriately so.
Paul said in Ephesians 4, 'And be kind to one another, tenderhearted forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.'
I've received it, now I'm going to dispense it. He's accepted me, I'm going to accept others. He has esteemed me enough to do that, I'm going to esteem others. So if Jesus is in you then love will come from you. These are all Paul's thoughts here. So because selfishness is all around you, because selfishness is opposed to the Christ that is in you, and the third motivation for selfless living. Because selfishness hurts the family by you.
Who is by you right now? Your family's by you. The Christian family. The church.
And so he writes in his thoughts, 'If there's any fellowship of the spirit '...verse one. That is the fellowship we enjoy with each other produced by the Holy Spirit. 'If there is any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like minded having the same love being of one accord of one mind.'
He is speaking to Philippian believers about their fellowship. And he introduces a thought that he'll expand upon later in chapter 4 when he says, you know there's a couple of people in your church, they happen to be gals. And the church is experiencing a division because one group is siding with one person, the other group is siding with yet another person. So there was a division in the church.
It was a Christian family, but there was sibling rivalry within the family. Why? Hey, let me ask you a question. Why? Why are there divisions in any church among any group of Christians? Why? One word, you know it. Selfishness. It's all about selfishness. It's pride that produces selfishness. James, in chapter 4 of his book, said, 'What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something and you don't get it. You kill and you covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and you fight.'
So get Paul's thinking here. Selfishness is a part of the world. Selfishness greatly offends the Lord. Selfishness is opposed to Jesus Christ. Selfishness hurts the church. We need a revolution. Not a Copernican revolution, as much as just a Christian revolution. Where we realize the world doesn't revolve around me. The world doesn't revolve around you. The world revolves around Him. It's His world. It's all about Him and you and I are just little luminaries that revolve around His will, His agenda. I hope. Because if that's the case, we're going to get along great. We're going to get along great.
Years ago somebody asked Doctor Karl Menninger, the famous founder of the Menninger clinic, what he would advise a patient who is about to have a nervous breakdown. If that patient felt a nervous breakdown was going to happen, what would this brilliant man, Dr. Karl Menninger advise? Most expected he would answer it by saying, I'd advise him to go to see a psychiatrist. But he said this, I would advise him to lock his door at home, go across town, find somebody who has a great need, and do something to help that person. You get it? I'm going to shift my focus off of me and onto them.
And that was astonishing when I read that because I thought that is really the heart of our text. We are not the center of the universe. When I shift my focus and esteem others better than myself. And if I'm interested in them, they're going to get interested in me. It's not all about the self or the #selfie, as much as the group E.
Thank you Father for the clear truth that is opposed to what we have heard and seen displayed in our world. Just like Copernicus said, we have to change our thinking. We've thought that the world revolves around the Earth, but it doesn't. So we too must have revolutionary thought. Lord, I pray that all of us would see our agenda, our life, our plans, revolving, rotating, being centered by, oriented by, your purpose, your will. Because the byproduct of that is great satisfaction for us. And great unity among us. And a great witness from us to the world. We pray it would mark us Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.