Many Bible passages are beautiful and inspiring. They bring comfort and peace as reminders of God's grace find room in our hearts. The Bible connects us to people who were healed, who experienced the presence of God in amazing ways. So we're motivated to look for God around us as well. Some passages leave us feeling lighter, as if a burden has been lifted.
And then there are the ones like this week's SOAP Bible Study. Philippians 2:3, "Don't do anything for selfish purposes but with humility think of others as better than yourselves."
Now, I am a child of the 80's when "self-esteem" reigned supreme, so alarms are going off in my head right now. What do you mean? Think of others as better? Don't I need to be watching out for myself? Women have been selfless forever, does this really apply to me? To my life?
It does help to remember that Paul gave this instruction to the entire church, not just the poor or the women or the slaves, but everyone. And that Paul's model for this lifestyle is none other than Jesus, who didn't exploit power but emptied himself to be with us and walk among us. And that, probably, this passage is less about being told to humble myself in front of those trying to put me in "my place" and more about being reminded that the person who pours my coffee or picks up my garbage and others who I might not even notice, are just as worthy in God's eyes as the people I might naturally admire. And that I am called to see and acknowledge that worth.
Yet, it's difficult to imagine even a day when selfish desires don't win out. And then I find the word of hope that lightens the burden because I know I'm not carrying it alone. "God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes." (Philippians 2:13 Common English Bible)
So I pray, God, enable me to be humble, to act out of the interest of others. Amen.