Better Than Self

Text: Philippians 2:1-11


I.         When learning another language, it helps to start with the most common words first, the ones most likely to come up in a conversation.

            A.        So what is the most common word spoken in English?

                        1.         One study in 1992 by Godfrey of switchboard conversations found the word “I” to appear the most often.

                        2.         The New York Telephone Company, decades ago, found the same thing.

                        3.         We use “I” a lot!

            B.        Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

            C.        Many people are interested in making friends, but it seems the majority of the world think friendliness is getting other people to be interested in you.

                        1.         They strive to impress others with their accomplishments, their talents, their wit.

                        2.         But consider for the moment the lowly dog.

                                    a.         Why are they such popular pets?

                                    b.         True some are kept for the protection of the house

                                    c.         But most are kept for the simple reason that they focus on their masters. They are excited when they get home. They stick close. They act as if the best thing in the world is that you notice them.

                                    d.         For what? They aren’t out to sell you some item. They don’t want your backing for a bid for an office.

                                    e.         It is the genuineness of their interest which makes us interested in return.

            D.        A key to all human relations is found in Philippians 2:3-4

                        1.         Without rivalry, or strife, or selfish ambition – depending on your translation

                        2.         Without empty conceit

                        3.         Consider others better that yourself

II.        Genuine Interest in Others

            A.        Paul tells us how to go about considering other better than yourself – look out for the interests of others

                        1.         Be fond of each other. Give preference to each other - Romans 12:10

                                    a.         The word “preference” comes from the Greek word proegeomai, which means to lead the way or to out do another.

                                    b.         It means taking the initiative. When it comes to showing kindness to another, going first, trying to beat the other to the first act of kindness.

                                    c.         When it comes to treating another with respect, it means going first, trying to beat the other to the first act of honor.

                                    d.         Long ago, Publilius Syrus stated, “We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”

                                                (1)       While that is the way many people operate, it is not the way a Christian should behave.

                                                (2)       We take the initiative!

                        2.         Honor all. Love the brotherhood - I Peter 2:17

            B.        It must be a sincere love, not some act or tolerance - I Peter 1:22

            C.        Dale Carnegie wrote this in How to Win Friends and Influence People (p. 55-56), “That, too, was one of the secrets of Theodore Roosevelt’s astonishing popularity. Even his servants loved him. His valet, James E. Amos, ... relates this illuminating incident:

My wife one time asked the President about a bobwhite. She had never seen one and he described it to her fully. Sometime later, the telephone at our cottage rang. My wife answered it and it was Mr. Roosevelt himself. He had called her, he said, to tell her that there was a bobwhite outside her window and that if she would look out she might see it. Little things like that were so characteristic of him ...

How could employees keep from liking a man like that? How could anyone keep from liking him?

Roosevelt called at the White House one day when the President and Mrs. Taft were away. His honest liking for humble people was shown by the fact that he greeted all the old White House servants by name, even the scullery maids.

“When he saw Alice, the kitchen maid,” writes Archie Butt, “he asked her if she still made corn bread. Alice told him that she sometimes made it for the servants, but no one ate it upstairs.

“‘They show bad taste,’ Roosevelt boomed, ‘and I’ll tell the President so when I see him.’

“Alice brought a piece to him on a plate, and he went over to the office eating it as he went and greeting gardeners and laborers as he passed. ...

“He addressed each person just as he had addressed them in the past. ...”

            D.        If God can do it, then we ought to do so as well - Psalm 138:6

            E.        Be courteous - I Peter 3:8

            F.        Show respect. Suppress your will for another (submit)

                        1.         Advice to young people - I Peter 5:5

                        2.         For all - Ephesians 5:21

III.       Competing Against Others

            A.        Seeking others well-being. Never lose sight of our purpose and goal - I Corinthians 10:24,33

            B.        There is a story in the Old Testament that if you think about it is really strange to people of our culture - Genesis 23:3-18

                        1.         To understand, imagine a wealthy man coming up to a car dealer and saying “I wish to get a car.” To which the sales people answer, “Pick which ever one you want off the lot and it is yours.” “The silver Lexus does interest me. I’ll pay full price for it.” “Fine choice. But you don’t need to pay me, it is yours.” “Well, if you are willing to give it, then you must let me pay for it.” “What? It lists for only $38,000, but what is that between you and I? Take the car with my blessings.” To which the wealthy man pays the full price.

                        2.         This is a glimpse of what mankind once was like. They did not dicker down to the least acceptable price, men negotiated seeking the better position for the other.

            C.        We see a similar character in David - I Chronicles 21:21-25

            D.        Instead we see people competing to get the best advantage over others. Not only in our purchases, but it influences every aspect of our lives.

                        1.         Biting and devouring each other - Galatians 5:14-15

                        2.         God’s wrath is on the self-seeking - Romans 2:8

                        3.         Evil exists where there is selfish ambition - James 3:14-16

            E.        We are not in a competition - II Corinthians 10:12

                        1.         Seeking your own glory is not glory - Proverbs 25:27

                        2.         Instead of pushing self, let others - Proverbs 27:2

IV.      The Emptiness of Conceit

            A.        Alfred Adler, a psychologist, said, “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.”

            B.        We remember Diotrephes, not for the good he might of done, but the fact that he thought so much of himself that he would not even welcome the venerated apostle John - III John 9

                        1.         That is why it is warned to remember where we came from - Titus 3:1-5

                        2.         Wrapped up in useless arguments - I Timothy 6:3-5

            C.        Love does not parade itself, does not seek its own - I Corinthians 13:4-5

                        1.         Don’t be wise in your own sight - Proverbs 26:12

                        2.         Exalting your own leads to ruin - Proverbs 17:19

            D.        In lowliness bearing with others in love - Ephesians 4:2

V.        If you fulfill the royal law, you are doing well - James 2:8

            A.        In other words, fulfilling this command means removing pride from our lives and replacing it with true humility

            B.        Pride doesn’t have the effect you might think it does - Proverbs 29:23

            C.        Pride leads to conflict - Proverbs 13:10

            D.        Godliness is to hate pride - Proverbs 8:13