As you ponder the meaning of love this month, I’d like to invite you to consider this definition: Love is giving another person what they need the most when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. This kind of love stands in stark contrast to the number one “love killer”: pride. Let’s unpack Paul’s practical teaching in Philippians 2 about combating selfishness and choosing this kind of radical love.
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While our culture celebrates “romantic love” this month, I’d like to explore the kind of love that changes lives, restores relationships, forgives offenses, cares for the hurting, and brings hope to everyone around us. Read on to learn three steps to choosing this radical, selfless kind of love.
If there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love … if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete … maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Philippians 2:1-2 NASB 1995
Dear Ministry Partner,
In February, our culture celebrates “romantic love”: flowers, chocolate, and greeting cards for that special someone in our lives. But is that all there is to love? Is it possible that we have so redefined love around our feelings, experiences, and desires, that we’ve made love all about “us”?
Romantic love has its place, but it’s no substitute for the kind of love that changes lives, restores relationships, forgives offenses, cares for the hurting, and brings hope and life to those around us.
Love is more than a feeling—it’s a CHOICE!
Paul urged his Philippian brothers and sisters to be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose (Philippians 2:2). He then unpacked how to CHOOSE LOVE when our selfishness and pride get in the way of loving others.
Three Steps to Choosing Love
STEP ONE: Choose to declare war on selfishness. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” (Philippians 2:3)
We’re all born innately selfish. We want to be first in line, get the best table at the restaurant, and receive the best promotion at work. We don’t just slide out of being selfish. This predisposition toward “my way” and “my stuff” is deeply rooted in our hearts. But the Spirit of God gives us the ability to look beyond ourselves and be mindful of others (Galatians 5:22-23). The first step is to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and declare war on selfishness.
STEP TWO: Attack the root problem: pride. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.” (Philippians 2:3)
Selfishness is what comes naturally to us. The root of the problem is why we do it: conceit. What does it look like? “I’m superior, more important, and more intelligent. My time and my life matter more than yours.” Our behavior screams, “I’m the center of the world!”
C. S. Lewis rightly observed that there is one primary sin: PRIDE—and from it, all other sin flows. Pride is subtle, insidious, blinding, and powerful. We all suffer from it, try to disguise it, and ultimately realize that no amount of self-effort can conquer it.
Note that I used the intense words declare war and attack in steps one and two. A casual approach just won’t do with these core issues of selfishness and pride. They are so deeply rooted in our psyche that we have to declare war and say, “I refuse, in light of what God has done for me, to be a selfish person.”
At this point, we all must be very careful. We never win the battle with pride and selfishness by simply trying to be less selfish or less proud. That approach backfires and keeps us focused on us. God’s antidote to pride is not looking inward but looking outward.
STEP THREE: Choose to practice humility. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Humility is not thinking too highly of yourself or thinking too lowly of yourself but rather having an accurate, sober self-assessment. Humility does not require self-loathing, but it requires us to make a radical shift in our attitude and outlook.
God’s remedy for pride and selfishness is SERVANTHOOD! In verses 5-8, Paul continues his appeal to CHOOSE LOVE by the example of Jesus, who, being God, humbled Himself, becoming a bond-servant and choosing obedience, even death on a cross to love you and me.
This passage changed the course of my life. Many decades ago, I was overwhelmed with the ugliness of my pride and my inability to change. I lived in a world of self-loathing, discouragement, and defeat. Desperate, I met with a trusted leader and shared my struggles and futile attempts to get rid of my pride. He wisely told me,
“Chip, quit trying to get rid of your pride and just start serving people. Be last in line, put others first, give the first of your money to help others, start asking more questions, and listen for what your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, and your church members need. Then take care of as many of those needs as you can.”
I’d like to say I’ve done all those things perfectly, but of course I haven’t. Yet it started me on a path of CHOOSING LOVE, and I invite you to join me. Let’s be SERVANTS! As you give your life away to others, the Lord will do things in you and through you that will fill your heart to the brim.
So go ahead and buy flowers and chocolates, enjoy a mushy movie, take your loved one to a nice dinner, and give them a romantic card. Just don’t confuse all these things with the kind of love that changes the world—the love Jesus extends to us and calls us to give others.
Thank you for choosing to pray and give financially so others might experience Jesus’s love and hope. Your gifts allow us to bring the truth of God’s Word to millions each month, to the next generation, and to pastors all around the world.
Choosing Love TOGETHER,
CEO and Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Every month, we’ll share with you the top three prayer requests and praises from our team at Living on the Edge. This update is one of our favorite, as it’s so clear the many ways that God is at work in our ministry. Chip and our entire team encourage you to celebrate and pray alongside us.
We Thank God For…
- Blessing Chip’s teaching to thousands at the Intentional Discipleship Conference in Manila.
- Empowering Chip’s message to encourage marketplace leaders and church leaders in Singapore.
- His providence and protection for Chip and the Global team during their travels.
We ask God to…
- Fill the Living on the Edge Board with His wisdom and discernment as they meet in Atlanta this month.
- Provide Chip with focused study time this month as he prepares several new teachings.
- Transform lives and communities through The A.R.T. of Survival pastor trainings in India, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zambia this year.