“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others…For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philippians 2:3-4, 21)
Myopia is nearsightedness. It’s defined as “A visual defect in which distant objects appear blurred because their images are focused in front of the retina rather than on it.” It’s also defined metaphorically as “Lack of discernment or short-sightedness in thinking or planning.” Philosophically, myopicism is when one fails to see the big, life-picture and focuses on one’s own little self. Someone has said, “The smallest package in the world is a man wrapped up in himself.”
All of us – the whole lot – think too much of ourselves. Our vision of this world and all things in it is somehow blurred into the perimeter of our view so we can focus on our own needs and desires. That’s human. That’s fleshly. That’s our old and quite alive, Adamic nature. We are afflicted with narcissistic self-love and our vision of life is naturally myopic.
So, what can I do to solve this self-inflicted dilemma? There are several things to consider and to examine.
First, we must study the context from which those verses come. Paul spoke of his constant concern for the Philippian believers. He cared for them because Christ, in His sovereign love, cared for him. It was the great condescension and humbling of Christ to be incarnated as the suffering servant. Christ laid aside prerogatives of His deity to give His life for His people. Christ chose the will of His Father and so must we.
Second, it would do us well to examine ourselves – put ourselves to the test. That’s what the Word of God commands.
“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith, prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates” (2 Corinthians 13.5)
The word “examine” comes from the Greek word “paradzo” (peirazw), which means “to test.” One might test a theory to see if it is true. One might test an individual applying for a job to see if they are really qualified. The word “prove” comes from the Greek word “dokimadzo” (dokimazw), which means, among other things, to prove reliability or purity, as one might prove the reliability of an ox to pull, or by fire to prove if an ore is really gold.
Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to test whether or not they are true believers whether Christ indwelt them by the Spirit. If Christ is not living His life through them in their daily existence, then they are “reprobates” (“adokimoi,” “adokimoi”). They are ones who are not able to stand the test. They fail to fulfill the very purpose for which Christ has saved His people. Jesus Christ prayed to the Father,
“I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.” (John 17:23)
We must ask ourselves, “Have I ever told someone else about Jesus Christ? Have I been one who faithfully proclaims Christ’s saving good news? Am I thinking of the eternal destiny of my friends, work associates, relatives, and neighbors? Or am I just thinking of myself?
R. C. Sproul spoke honestly when he declared, “We don’t love anyone else in the world like we love ourselves.” We strive when we shouldn’t and vain-gloriously think too much of ourselves. Let’s face it. We have a spiritual failure – unable to stand the test when we myopically keep our attention on ourselves – our needs, our desires.
C. K. Ober succinctly said,
Go, labor on, spend and be spent,
thy joy to do the Father’s will;
it is the way the Master went,
should not the servant tread it still?
Go, labor on, ’tis not for naught,
thy earthly loss is heavenly gain;
men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not.
the Master praises, what are men?
Go, labor on, while yet ’tis day,
the world’s dark night is hastening on;
speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away,
it is not thus that souls are won.
May God help us to take a self-vision-test. Whose “things” are we seeking, ours or those of the dead and dying world all around us?