Phil 2:21  “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”

     This was a sad statement on the condition of some in Paul’s time.  It is important to note that Paul was not talking about pagans or non believers.  He was talking about the church.  Barnes commentary states that Paul was referring to those Christians in Rome including ministers (Barnes Commentary).  This commentary wisely urges us not to be harsh in judging them as we fall into the same patterns of self interest all too often and all too easily, at least I do.  Putting aside self interest is a constant battle.  Yet as Jesus said many times and in many ways it is a battle for our very own life;  “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it. ” (Mark 8:35)

     Looking out for yourself to the exclusion of all others will kill you.  Paul puts it very plainly; “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” (Phil 3:18,19)  The world’s wisdom always urges us to look out for yourself, pay yourself first, if you don’t love yourself no one else will, nice guys finish last. The list goes on and on.   How many times have I bought into the world’s wisdom and lived as an enemy of the cross?  Many, many times.  How many times have I quoted Mark 8:35 and lived the opposite?  Many, many times.  Oh, I have given good lip service to the gospel, done my mechanical tithes and duties.  I have done no wrong from a legalistic perspective.

     The truth is, a righteous life is a life lived by faith – a life lived where each step is made by trusting Jesus.   I am like the rich young ruler who thought he was good. But when Jesus asked him to sell all he had, give the proceeds to the poor and follow Him, the fellow couldn’t do it.  Jesus asked for the fellow’s trust.   The man couldn’t as he trusted in his own (self)righteousness.  This incident (Luke 18:18-27)  dramatically shows the difference between self-righteousness and true righteousness.   The good news for me, in this scripture is when the disciples ask; “who then can be saved?”  Jesus replies;  “. . . The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27).   God, please save me because I can’t save myself!!!!

     Even though I have no true righteousness of my own and now I realize that my self righteousness (which I have plenty of) will never get me anywhere worth going – I’m not quiting.   I DON’T WANT TO DIE!   I have confessed that I don’t measure up but I’m not giving up hope.  I will trust Jesus because He will give me the strength to make each step in that trust  (Phil 4:13). 

    Paul’s confession exhorts and encourages me; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ”  (Phil 3:12-14)