Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you toPHILIPPIANS 2:2-4
the interests of the others.
True unity cannot come out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Self ambition and vain conceit are motivational forces that come from our spiritual immaturity. God says we should not act out on these negative motivations that have their existence in the negative emotions of our hearts.
Selfish ambition has its root in the rejection, rebellion and pride of our own hearts. Selfish ambitions are centered around us and our emotional needs. Our rejection, rebellion and pride demand these things to be satisfied and fulfilled, but the more we give in to these emotions the more they demand of us.
Selfish ambitions would be motivations out of our ambition to be more successful by the world’s standard. To have a bigger ministry, to be more important, so we can have a greater acknowledgment from others, so that we will feel better about ourselves and thereby satisfy that emptiness in our hearts from the negative self image cause by the rejection that we still have in our hearts.
These motivations can also come from our pride or vain conceit. Conceit means to have an unrealistic, high opinion of ourselves: that we are better than others and therefore our pride demands that we show it through our success. Pride demands accolades and acknowledgement from others. Jesus said that the heart was the storehouse of good and evil. So, we can tell ourselves that we are doing ministry for Jesus, but still function out of our own hearts.
We must realize that we all have both motivations within us to some degree depending on our spiritual maturity. We can have the worldly or carnal motivations of selfish ambition and vain conceit or, we can have the kingdom of God or spiritual motivations of humbleness and servant hood. This is why it says in Philippians 2:3 “But in humility consider others better than yourselves.” That does not mean that they are better, especially those that give you grief, attitude and trouble. But God says to consider them better. If you don’t, then your vain conceit will rise up and become stronger and you will tend to give in to that motivational force within your heart without consciously realizing it and the pride in your heart will justify your actions to your mind because pride will not allow you to be wrong.
All of these motivational forces automatically rise up in our hearts because our hearts do not reason things out. They just react to circumstances, situations and people around us, according to what is in our hearts to start with. We never stop to think about whether we should get angry or hurt. No, the anger or hurt is a responsive emotion of our heart to what happened to us.
One character trait we have to develop in ourselves to protect our hearts from these negative motivations is humility. This is why we must consider even the people we don’t like as better than ourselves, because that can only be done from true humility which is the opposite of pride. Remember, God gives grace to the humble.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.PHILIPPIANS 2:5-9
Note that Jesus humbled Himself and we are told to have the same attitude.