We live in a self-absorbed, self-obsessed society. When we get into trouble, we turn to self-help: either by buying one of the millions of books available, or by browsing the internet. When we visit a special place, or special people, the photos we take are selfies, our cheesy grins blocking out the view. But in these chapters, Paul issues the timely reminder that life is not all about us!
If we heed the advice in the opening verses: “Set your hearts on things above, not on earthly things”, then everything else will be put into its proper perspective and several things will change.
There will be no need to “self-medicate” with the poor practices listed in v.5-9. We will not have to indulge in behaviour that makes us feel better – whether that’s meeting a physical ache or an emotional one. Looking to Jesus as the source of all we need helps us let go of the self-centredness that comes from focussing on what we lack.
When we know that this life isn’t about us, but about others around us, it will affect how we treat them. If we forgive others (v.12 – 14), we will be able to let go of the anger and swearing because we are killing the problem at source. Instead of the sense of relief we might feel after a good rant, we will experience genuine, Christ-given peace. From that peace springs gratitude and a further settling of our soul.
A healthy respect for and awareness of others around us leads to balance within the entire community. Marriages will know less conflict and more fulfilment, parents and children will learn how to appreciate each other, workers won’t be exploited by their employers. Our focus can turn toward how we can best meet their needs – understanding, with some wisdom, that our own needs will be met as a beautiful by-product.
Remembering it’s not all about us produces genuine concern for the people who partner with us in the gospel. It doesn’t have to be a formal relationship within a ministry, but a concern for all those God has woven into our lives: the ones that pray, or ask how things are going, who keep our chins up when times are tough. We both need and need to be friends like that.
Father, help me to resist the current of today’s culture. I want your word to be the truth that steers me. Help me at all times to keep looking at you – the truest mirror I could use. Amen