I like the tongue-in-cheek definition of philosophers one of my seminary professors would occasionally use. It's classic: Philosophers are people who talk about something they don't understand and make you think it's your fault!
I like the tongue-in-cheek definition of philosophers one of my seminary professors would occasionally use. It's classic:
Philosophers are people who talk about something they don't understand and make you think it's your fault!1
Lots of philosophies are floating around, and most of them are more confusing than they are helpful. Interestingly, those that are clear enough to be understood usually end up focusing full attention on the individual. Consider a few of them:
Education says, "Be resourceful; expand yourself!"
Psychology says, "Be confident; assert yourself!"
Religion says, "Be good; conform yourself!"
Epicureanism says, "Be sensuous; enjoy yourself!"
Materialism says, "Be satisfied; please yourself!"
Pride says, "Be superior; promote yourself!"
Humanism says, "Be capable; believe in yourself!"
Philanthropy says, "Be generous; release yourself!"
Yourself, yourself, yourself. We're up to here with self! Do something either for yourself or with yourself or to yourself. How very different from Jesus's model and message! He offers rather a fresh and much-needed invitation to our "me-first" generation. Jesus says, in effect, "Be a servant . . . give to others!" (Mark 10:45). Now that's a philosophy anybody can understand. And, without question, it is attainable. Just look:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3–4)
Know what all that means? Well, for starters, "nothing" means just that. Stop permitting two strong tendencies—selfishness and conceit—to control you! Let nothing that either of these words suggests win a hearing. Replace "selfishness" and "conceit" with "humility of mind."
But how? By regarding others as more important than yourself. Look for ways to support, encourage, build up, and stimulate the other person.
And that requires an attitude that would rather give than receive.