May 7, 2021

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing from selfish ambition 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.

 

Growing up I loved reading the daily newspaper advice columns from people like “Dear Abby.” Perhaps my favorite letter was from a new wife complaining that her husband liked cold ketchup (stored in the fridge), while her preference was warm (stored in the cupboard). “Help, Abby!” she exclaimed. “This issue is ruining our marriage!”

Abby’s reply was perfect: “The ketchup solution is simple: Just buy two bottles. Store one in the cupboard for you, and one in the fridge for him. But if this issue is really ‘ruining your marriage,’ then your problems are much bigger than your ketchup.”

We might laugh at the apparent silliness of this ketchup argument, or we might think better of ourselves because “Duh! We would have figured that out on our own!” But are we really that different than these newlyweds? Are we above such petty disagreements, or do we just hide them better?

As a grown man in my 30’s, I remember once deciding to be petty about something. I was right, my wife was wrong, and she needed to get with the program! So I pouted around the house, treating everyone accordingly and basically spread negativity to every room I entered.

And then, right in the midst of my snit, these words popped into my head. I knew immediately it was God, gently nudging me:

“You have a wife and five children who depend on you. You don’t have the luxury of being childish.”

I love the simplicity of our passage today: Just think of other people and their needs as more important than your own. That doesn’t mean your needs don’t matter – Paul says sure, take care of your own needs, too! You can have warm ketchup if you like… But at the same time, make sure your brother, your sister, your friend, your spouse, whomever – make sure they get what they need first. Care for them like you would like to be cared for. Consider them “more significant” than yourself.

I’m guessing that advice would solve a lot of “Dear Abby” letters before they were ever written. How might you apply this advice in your marriage or relationships today?

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