Every now and then I come across a passage that makes me want to shut my Bible and run in the opposite direction because living it would require me to make a major shift in my priorities or my behavior.
Recently, one such passage confronted me.
Philippians 2:4 says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
The temptation with a passage like this, is to do one of two things: 1) Read it and quickly forget about it or 2) Make the easiest application possible and begin looking out for the interests of people closest to us.
Let's be honest. Looking out for our roommate's best interest, our significant other's best interest or even our bff's best interest are all in our best interest. While giving up jurisdiction of the TV remote so a loved one can watch an NBA game when you'd much rather watch the Oscars (hypothetically speaking, of course) is a nice thing to do, is that what the Bible really means here? Is that taking this verse far enough? Or is that just our way of giving to someone who will "owe us one" in return?
Let's look at this verse through the lens of global poverty. The Bible records over 300 verses about helping the poor and needy. But chances are their interests aren't the first thing that pop into our minds when we think about looking out for someone else and placing their needs before our own.
Donating time or money to help those less fortunate is costly because it doesn't come with the same reciprocal effect as doing something nice for the people we love. It's a lot easier to hand over the remote on a Sunday night than it is to part with $38 a month that may require us to permanently break up with Starbucks.
When we make Christ our ultimate example, we see that the Bible is never asking us to do the easy thing. Nothing about God coming to earth in human form was easy (born in a messy manger, anyone?) and nothing about His death on the cross was painless.
So, while the little things like handing over the TV remote might be great ways to train and prepare ourselves to sacrifice in the bigger things, we should never stop with the little things and consider our job done.
The Bible is asking us to be people who live with our eyes wide open as we survey the needs around us. While this verse doesn't imply that we can help everyone, it does indicate (and even command) that we are to help someone.
That might mean taking your lunch money and using it to feed the homeless man on the street corner instead of filling your own belly. It might mean eating at home on Friday night instead of getting takeout so you can purchase groceries for your local food drive. Or it might mean making a commitment of $38 a month to sponsor a child through Compassion International so he or she can have access to a future without poverty.
Compassion International CEO Wes Stafford once said, "The opposite of poverty isn't wealth. The opposite of poverty is enough."
While whether or not any of us is wealthy might be debatable, even those of us who rummage through couch cushions for spare change can readily admit our basic needs for food, shelter and clothing are usually met.
Let's take Paul's words about looking out for the interests of others to a new level and help someone who truly cannot help themselves.
Radical by David Platt
Shannon Primicerio has a lot to learn about sacrificial giving. But she'd been motivated to do so after spending a week in Colombia with Compassion International. You can read about her trip in detail here: http://beingagirlbooks.com/blog/my-trip-to-colombia-with-compassion/
© 2011 by Shannon Primicerio. All rights reserved.
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