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Philippians 2:3 – Self-interest versus humility

03-02-2023 - Posted by Hans

… being disposed to one thing – nothing according with faction, nor yet according with vainglory – but with humility, deeming one another superior to one’s self…

Being united does not mean sharing the same opinions, but having the same attitude . It indicates a common orientation: focused on what one has in common spiritually (“communion of spirit”; 2:1). Formulated negatively , this means that one does not think or act “according with vainglory (=self-interest)”.

The word for “vainglory” is also translated as “selfishness”: it denotes a selfish attitude in which one allows one’s own ambitions to prevail over others. An extension of this is the word “vanity”: pretending to represent something when in reality it is empty. With such an attitude one shifts the attention from the communion (> “one-minded”) to one’s own aspirations. Selfishness always leads to clashes and quarrels since everyone has their own ego (=I).

“In humility consider each other superior to oneself” does not necessarily mean that you attribute more qualities to the other person than to yourself. Nor does it mean that you rate yourself unrealistically low or the other person unrealistically high. A humble attitude means that what we share as believers is superior to our individual interests. Does my conduct build the ecclesia (1Cor.10:23)? That is decisive question!