Summary: Jesus example of humility
What does it take to be a success? When Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator of Italy for over 20 years, was asked that question by a New York journalist, his reply was, “Above all, keep your heart a desert!”
According to Mussolini, having a heart which cared for no one was the key to true success.
He lived up to that cruel description of success during his lifetime. In a sense, he was successful, I suppose. He became the ruler of his country for two decades… until his own people had him shot.
Most of us have had some dreams of greatness at some time in our lives, I would imagine. What does it mean to be truly successful? I think our passage may help us to understand success a bit better.
When we left the scene last week, Paul had been speaking about unity: that our unity in the Holy Spirit should be reflected in unity of mind, unity of heart, and unity of purpose
We Christians like to talk about unity, but we’re not always really good at accomplishing it. Why not? What are the barriers to unity?
Immediately after exhorting the Philippians to unity, Paul brings up some barriers to unity in vss 3 & 4 that we read last week:
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
The first barrier that Paul mentions is Selfish ambition – a desire for our own glory
The primary barrier to Christian unity is just plain selfishness. It’s not really surprising. If I say someone is “only out for themselves”, I’m saying that person has no interest in anybody else’s needs.
Although it has gotten a bad rap at times, ambition is not bad – the Apostle Paul was very ambitious.
What counts are the goals and the motivations of one’s ambition.
You can tell holy ambition from selfish ambition, because “holy ambition… elevates Christ and not the ambitious striver.”
Holy ambition is GOOD!
Being ambitious to advance God’s agenda doesn’t block unity, it promotes it
But if our only ambition is for our own success, our own health & wealth for its own sake, then our ambition is not good, according to Scripture.
Take some time to ask yourself, “What am I ambitious for?”
The next barrier to unity is Pride
Pride is another one of those words that we can mean in a good way or a bad way
If we say someone “takes pride in their work,” it doesn’t mean they’re arrogant, it just means they find joy and purpose in a job well done.
There is nothing wrong with that.
In fact, I believe God wired us to feel that way – that He wants us to feel that way!
When the Bible talks about pride, it refers to those who believe that what they have achieved, has been done apart from any intervention by God.
"Alex Haley, the author of ROOTS, has a picture in his office, showing a turtle sitting on a fence post.
He says, ‘Any time I start thinking, WOW, ISN’T THIS MARVELOUS WHAT I’VE DONE!’ I look at that picture and remember what I learned a long time ago: ’If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help.’