Paul’s desire is to courageously stand up for the gospel. “It is my eager expectation …that I will not be at all ashamed…”(1:20). He urges these Greek believers to do the same–to engage themselves in the conflict, to stand side by side, united in their intent to spread the gospel—–unafraid and unashamed.
Now to do this, we must remember the basic Christian principle of love and humility:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (2:3-4).
Jesus is to be our example. He gave His life as an atonement for our sin; He suffered so that we might not die (2:5-11). He was unselfish.
Matthew Henry (England, 1662-1704) said that loving others more than ourselves is the first lesson in Christ’s school. It is not an easy lesson! Especially when you disagree over the best way to spread the gospel. Just get a great idea, form a committee, and watch the sparks fly.
Keep an eye on yourself. That idea you had becomes your own “interest” (2:4), and, suddenly, instead of serving others, you are ramming something down their throats. On the other hand, we don’t have to cave in to every opposition either. Rather, Paul reminds everyone that opposition to the gospel is to be expected and resisted. After all, Satan is like a roaring lion looking around for whom he can eat up.
It is a lot easier to just not be engaged in this conflict. When your children resist your Bible stories, just read Disney instead. When ladies get catty at Bible studies, just stay home. When others don’t get excited about your evangelistic idea, drop it.
Instead of caving in, we would be wise to think about the sovereignty of God and whether our attitudes and actions are pleasing Him (2:12-13).