Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
The New Testament is full of suggestions on how to be like Jesus. This passage is one of them. There are six tips squeezed into 4 sentences here that are things to keep in mind when relating to others. And the great thing about these being God’s ideas and not our own is that he promises to give us the desire and the ability to behave this way (Philippians 2:13), and he does!
What’s actually fascinating about passages like these isn’t God’s instructions but our response. Some people store these instructions away like they are directions for future use incase we encounter a stranger on a train or something. But, this is how we are to live all the time with everyone - including the people in our house.
Marriage is our single most important relationship next to the one we have with God himself. And it seems to be the one relationship people aren’t willing to put any thought or time in cultivating. Can you imagine what marriages would be like if spouses applied Philippians 2:3-4 to their behavior towards one another instead of complaining about passages like Ephesians 5:21-33. Be humble towards my husband. Don’t think I’m better than he is. Take more interest in his interests. This is simply the practical application of Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:21) and wives respect your husband (Ephesians 5:33).
How about Romans 12:9-18
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
The “others” here includes the person we sleep next to! Don’t pretend, be glad to honor, work hard and enthusiastically, be patient with him and pray for him. Help him, be happy and sad with him not indifferent towards him. Talk about what he likes to discuss, and don’t be a know-it-all. Enjoy his company, and if he’s in a bad mood - don’t return the mood.
I love how specific God’s Word is. It’s very helpful, very do-able when it’s broken down into instructions like this, and it certainly does apply to marriage. And parenting too! I must go back and reread these scripture in light of how I want to relate to my kids today too and not just reserve these instructions as theory for some other people I may meet someday. There’s non-theoretical people in my house right now who would appreciate me imitating Christ a whole lot!
Thank you that you not only want me to have thriving relationships, but you also succinctly show me how! Help me to not just hope to be a godly wife and good mom today but to obey these instructions and rely on your Holy Spirit to help me. You are so great and greatly to be praised and I thank you so much for my marriage and family and the opportunity to practice on them today. I love you and pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Some women will be reluctant towards the second to the last paragraph because if it’s all about him, when do we talk about me? But I’ve seen from experience that simply obeying scripture is always beneficial to ALL PARTIES involved and God will certainly make sure you are not left out. Leave it to HIM and just see for yourself! No worries!