We're all wired to 'think more highly of ourselves than we ought' (Rom. 12:3) and consider others' needs/desires primarily when its to our advantage or convenient. Therefore, Philippians 2:3-4 is one of the most challenging texts in the Bible:
"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."
We only need to keep reading to discover the primary, theological key to winning this war against selfishness as Paul, in vv. 5-11, holds up the ultimate 'exhibit A' of other-centered sacrificial service: Christ's incarnation and death on the Cross in our place.
This morning as I was studying my Bible I came across a second key to unlock selflessness toward others in Job 31. Verse 15 reads, "Did not he who made me in the womb make him? And did not one fashion us in the womb?" In the process of defending his fair treatment toward others, Job bases his pattern of selfless, other-centered service on the fact that the people in his life were made by God every bit as much as he was. They have hopes, dreams and a mission in life from God as much as he does. They were made in the image of God as much as he was. Therefore, it would be wrong to put his agenda ahead of theirs or act like they exist to serve his desires. No, their lives were every bit as valuable as his. Consequently, he devoted his life not only to serving God (see Job 1:1) but to serving others.
Who in your world are you tempted to marginalize or manipulate to serve your agenda today? All of us have someone we generally take for granted or treat more like a possession than a person. Let's not only use Paul's picture of Christ the Servant in Philippians 2 to fight our naturally selfish instincts today, let's use Job's example of remembering that the people in our lives are every bit as important as we are. They, too, were made by God.