Last year, I studied Philippians, courtesy of one of Kay Arthur’s
inductive Bible Studies, along with a group of awesome ladies from my
old church (miss you!). But God drew me back to Philippians many times
I’ve read this tiny little book since I was young. I
can actually remember memorizing Philippians 2:1-11 in 2nd grade with
Mrs. Carpenter’s class. But last Spring, when we were breaking it all
down, I couldn’t get over my skepticism. The way Paul talked about
these Philippian believers seemed suspiciously overstated to me. Here’s
how he puts it:
I thank my God every time I remember
you....In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy...God
can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ
Jesus...you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown...
My reaction was something like this: Does anyone really
feel that way about people—who are not their spouse or their children,
their family or closest friends? I had a hard time taking Paul at his
word, believing he was real. And deep down, that didn’t sit well with
Over the last year, the Lord revealed some of my
self-centeredness to me. And let me tell you, it’s a whole lot easier
to deal with my revelations of my husband’s selfishness or the obvious
bouts of selfishness in my children. I can tell them just what they
need to do to fix it, if they’ll listen. But, me? The one who gives so
much of her life to the calling of Motherhood??? Selfish? Huh?
joking, of course, but it’s not funny. See, if I look around, I tend to
feel pretty normal. I measure up, or maybe even seem a little above
average when it comes to selfishness. I didn’t see it as much of a
problem for me. And it’s not, if I measure myself against “the norm”.
But against God’s Word? Well, that’s a different story.
nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not
only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4, NIV)
Think about these verses for a few minutes. They’re completely contrary to our culture’s philosophy of self: It’s all about me… Do what makes you happy… Look to yourself…
without knowing it, some of that has slipped in to your own heart. Read
those verses again, and let it sink in. It’s really easy to let your
heart get clouded with ideas that oppose God’s ideas.
are we to do when we find ourselves living in the land of self? Like I
said, I can tell anybody else how to fix it, quick. :)
I started praying that God would give me His eyes
for people, let me see them the way He does. Some were a little more
difficult for me to understand. Some I knew He had put in my life for
me to love. I continue to pray this, and He continues to help me see
why Paul longed for his people in that way.
I have also been
asking God to show me how to get rid of selfish ambition in my life,
and to help me care for the interests of others. Sometimes, I’ve been
caught off guard at the ways He has prompted me to care. It has often
been simply through my words. Words I normally would have held back out
of fear. But words God planted in my heart and wanted someone to hear.
sit here today to tell you that God is so good. Seek Him, and He will
show you the way, every little detail of the way, for you.
this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge
and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best
and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the
fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and
praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11, NIV
About Angela Parlin:
Angela is a full-time Mama to three little people, Wife to hubby of 10
years, daughter, sister, friend, and follower of Jesus.