Paul wrote letters to groups of people. Like I write letters to you. (Not as inspired, of course).
Here’s a few sentences from one of those letters:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
I was going to be cranky, a little. Or a little cynical, or snarky. But I’ll refrain.
Because I need to spend more time this week figuring out how to talk with us about what it might feel like to be intent on one purpose rather than many. I need to talk with us about what it might mean for me to consider someone else as more important than me.
Not out of an insecurity that puts me at the edge of every crowd. Paul seems pretty confident even when he is confessional.
Instead of being self-slandering, acknowledging that I do have value, how can I intentionally defer to the interests of others? How can I work as hard as possible to seek the best interests of everyone around me? How can I lose arguments for the sake of winning relationship? How can I explain the willing self-denial of Jesus in a way that might make everyone uncomfortable? Uncomfortable enough to say, “I wonder if he would help us to figure out how to do that?”
The challenge Paul poses is how can I love you for your well-being, not mine?
It’s hard. And it has led to abuses when a person in power expects others to do this for them.
But there is an orientation here. How can I do my best work for your best, from the measure of God, outcome?