Last December, I was given the opportunity to play the keys (that’s the keyboard for you non-hipster folks) at Word of Life Summer Camp. Several times each day, I would join the worship team on stage and lead over 200 teenagers and young adults in worship. I’m not gonna lie, it’s a pretty thrilling and incredible experience. Those moments on stage are some of my highlights from the entire year. It’s just SO cool to be able to worship God with that many voices and to see so many teens excited about praising their creator.
However, at the same time, those moments on stage are when I struggle most to maintain an attitude of humility. It’s so tempting to become proud when you’re standing up on stage, in front of all of those faces. If I’m not careful, I start to feel like a doggone good Christian. Before I know it, I’ve developed a “Hey, look at me!” attitude and instead of serving God, I’m serving my own pride and interests.
Nothing means… well, nothing.
In Philippians 2:3 we read, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (NIV)
“Do nothing from selfish ambition…”The first part of this verse kills me. Immediately after I read those words, the gears in my brain start spinning, trying to come with an exception to this phrase.
In my attempts to try to make the implications of this verse easier on myself, I did a little research. First I set out to figure out what was up with this “nothing” business. Maybe I’ve been using “nothing” in the wrong context all these years? Surely Paul can’t mean do NOTHING from selfish ambition. That would be ridiculous. Here’s how nothing is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
Nothing: not anything
Well, there was no getting around that one… By this point, I was starting to get nervous. But there was still hope. What about the word “ambition”? What is an “ambition”? Merriam-Webster?
Ambition: a particular goal or aim; something that a person hopes to do or achieve
There is absolutely no way to get around what Paul is saying here. He tells us that we are not to do anything, whether it’s playing an instrument in the worship team, teaching Sunday School, or greeting people at the door out of self ambition/interest. When we serve others, we should never do so with the hope that we receive something from them in return, nor so that they will think we’re good Christians. This isn’t placing them above ourselves, and it isn’t God-glorifying.
The motivation behind absolutely everything we do should be summed up by the words found in John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” (NIV)
An Honest Evaluation
Search your heart. Ask God to reveal the areas of pride in your life. Be honest with yourself, and make sure that in everything you do, you seek to see God’s name glorified– not your own.