Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:1-8)
Last week, we looked at Philippians 1 and how Paul used his time of isolation to “advance the gospel.” One of the ways we can use our own time of relative isolation to do this is by following Paul’s commands in the text above: “value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (verses 3-4).
It’s easy to pay lip-service to this ideal when the world is relatively healthy physically and economically. It’s another thing entirely to live out expressions of the gospel in times like the moment we’re living in today.
How practically can we value others above ourselves during this time? The answer to that question will of course look different for each of us based on our vocational roles and financial situations. But here are a few ideas I’d like to offer:
Stay at home. Most of us are under orders or strong advisement from government authorities to self-distance from others. “Value others above yourselves” by following these directives, volunteering to sacrifice some personal freedoms for the well-being of your neighbors.
Volunteer to take a pay-cut in order to save the jobs of others. Very few people can afford to do this, but the ones that do have the privilege of preaching the gospel through dramatic action. I’ve been so encouraged by many of you who have volunteered meaningful reductions in personal income in order to save the jobs of those around you.
Give more generously than usual. Last week, I spoke with a friend of mine who runs a digital marketing agency. While his business has not been hit hard yet by the current crisis, he has reason to believe it could be. But after a lot of prayer, he decided to step out in faith and pay the rent of his favorite local coffee shop that was tinkering on bankruptcy. Actions like these may look foolish to some, but to those coffee shop owners, it looks like the gospel in action.
What I’m suggesting here is hard. But you know what was unfathomably harder? Paying for the penalty of our sins. We are called to model the self-sacrificial life of Jesus. Let us all look for creative ways to model his gospel as we work through this crisis.