Philippians 2:4 says “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” This verse encourages us as Christians to be selfless and considerate of others, not just looking out for ourselves. Here are some ways we can live this out:
Put others first
We live in a very self-focused culture that encourages looking out for number one. But as Christians, we are called to resist that mindset and truly put others ahead of ourselves. This could mean letting someone go ahead of you in line, yielding the right of way while driving, or simply listening when someone needs to talk instead of interjecting with your own stories. Look for opportunities each day to elevate others’ needs above your own.
Generosity reflects a heart focused on others’ interests. We can be generous with our time, talents, and treasures. Some ideas include volunteering with charitable organizations, using your skills to help someone in need, donating money to causes you care about, and sharing possessions like food or clothing with others who lack them. Give freely without expecting anything in return.
Speak words of encouragement
Our words have power to build others up or tear them down. Make it a point to offer words of encouragement whenever possible. Compliment someone on a job well done, send a thank you note to express appreciation, offer comfort to someone going through a hard time, and speak positively about others rather than criticizing. Choose words that reflect love for others.
James 1:19 reminds us to be “quick to hear, slow to speak.” Make listening a priority in your interactions. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk – be fully engaged in what others are saying. Listen not just to their words but also to the heart behind what is being shared. Validate others’ perspectives and feelings. This reflects care for their interests.
Advocate for the vulnerable
As Christians, we are called to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves” (Proverbs 31:8). There are many vulnerable populations who need someone to be their voice – the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, the oppressed and marginalized. Do what you can to advocate for policies and causes that will uplift these groups. You could donate, volunteer, educate yourself on issues, and contact government leaders.
Holding onto offense and nursing grudges is the opposite of looking out for others’ interests. When we’ve been hurt or wronged, forgiving freely reflects care for the offender’s wellbeing, not just our own. Seek reconciliation, letting go of the right to resentment. Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. This applies in both big conflicts and small daily annoyances.
Share the gospel
The most loving thing we can do for others is introduce them to Jesus. His salvation is in their eternal interest! Look for opportunities to share the gospel message with wisdom and sensitivity. Your lifestyle and character should reflect Christ as you point people to Him. There is no greater way to look out for others than helping them find new life in Jesus.
Serve in humility
Jesus modeled perfect selfless service by washing the disciples’ feet. As we serve others in any capacity – in church ministry, community service, volunteering, helping friends and family – we should do so with humility. Don’t serve to boost your ego or get praise; serve to lift others up. Have a willing spirit, seeing even menial tasks as opportunities to put others first.
Bear others’ burdens
We are called in Galatians 6:2 to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Come alongside people who are weighed down with heavy loads. Help practically if possible by providing resources or volunteering your time. At the very least, call, pray, send encouraging notes, and be emotionally supportive. Don’t abandon others in their time of need.
Consider the greater good
As you make daily decisions in life, consider how your choices will impact others, not just yourself. For example, protecting the environment, using ethical business practices, stewarding resources wisely, and building up your local community all look out for others’ interests in the long run. Make choices for the greater good.
Be sympathetic and compassionate
We are called in 1 Peter 3:8 to “have sympathy, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” Sympathy means identifying with others’ pain, while compassion moves us to act to alleviate suffering. Both require looking beyond yourself. Be sensitive, listen well, cry with those who mourn, and be quick to offer comfort. Let their concerns move you.
Romans 12:13 tells us to “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Hospitality puts the focus on welcoming, serving, and meeting needs. Look for ways to be hospitable through having people into your home, bringing a meal to someone, including others in your plans, and creating a warm, inviting space for fellowship.
Prioritize unified purpose
In Philippians 2:2, Paul urges “being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” As communities of faith, we are called to lay aside individual agendas and pridefully jostling for position. Pursue wholeheartedly the purposes God has for His Church. Where there is disunity, humbly seek reconciliation and compromise for the greater good.
Esteem others above yourself
Philippians 2:3 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” This is countercultural, but crucial. Be quick to defer to others and let them take center stage. Look for ways to honor and build others up. Aim to truly see yourself as less important than them. This takes intentionality but reflects Christlike love.
Pray for others
Bring your conversations with God to others’ interests through intercessory prayer. Pray for friends and family, your church, neighbors, leaders, strangers, and foreign nations. Lift up both physical and spiritual needs before God. Ask for His intervention and blessings on their behalf. These prayers reflect care for others’ wellbeing in all areas of life.
Too often service can become dry duty devoid of joy. But we are called in Romans 12:8 to serve with cheerfulness! Remember that serving is a privilege. Take joy in lifting burdens off others. Let your positive attitude, smiles, laughter, energy, and thankfulness make your service a delight. Your joy will be contagious and encourage others too.
Living out “let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” requires intentionality and conscious effort. But it is at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus. As we make choices large and small through the lens of caring for others’ interests, we bless those around us and live out Christ’s commission to love one another.