“Let each of you look out not only on his own interests, but also for the interests of others”Philippians 2:4
There are only two kinds of Christians; but the word used to describe the two kinds may differ according to the emphasis of the writer or speaker. In this chapter Paul mentions both kinds and gives three examples of one of them.
He introduces the person who manipulates others in verse three, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit.” These people, mentioned again in 3:19, are only interested in their own position, power or comfort and manipulate others to achieve their goal. Phrases used by such people may include, “If you loved me you would …” or “You call yourself a Christian?” The motive is always the same – selfish ambition, earthly things and pride.
In contrast Paul gives three examples of people who did not manipulate but ministered to the needs of others in humble service at personal cost: Jesus, Timothy and Epaphroditus. He exhorts us to be of the same mind and develop the same characteristics. If we are abiding in Christ these characteristics will become more and more evident.
The key characteristic of Jesus that he mentions is humility. Although Jesus has the highest position; that of Creator, King of kings, Lord of lords yet he took on the form of a servant in order to redeem mankind. The cost to Him was the experience of the cross.
The main quality of Timothy that Paul mentions is also humility expressed through sacrificial service for others. People like Timothy were in short supply (v 20). Most Christians in Paul’s presence at the time were self-seeking manipulators (v 21). Timothy, on the other hand, had proven that he was one who ministered for the edification and benefit of others (v 22).
Epaphroditus is mentioned for his sacrificial service even though it nearly killed him (v 27). Clearly, this was an expression of humility also. Paul commends him for his labour as a “fellow worker and fellow soldier” who ministered to his need (v 25). Not surprisingly Epaphroditus was much loved by those to whom he had ministered before and they were greatly concerned at his ill health (v 26).
Paul’s desire for all Christians is that we have the same mind as Jesus, Timothy and Epaphroditus and, may I add, Paul.