Taped to my computer at work is a yellow index card with a verse written in red:
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. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
More than likely, we've all heard these verses at one time or another. Parents, teachers, pastors... I've heard them all use this with the words "DO NOTHING FROM" highlighted, underlined or otherwise marked in their speech. In fact I read it this morning just like that - it's so familiar to think "I must be humble, I must be unselfish, I must not be conceited". I think when we make those words the focus of the passage, we miss the beauty in these verses. We are to have the same attitude as Jesus did, humbling ourselves, regarding others as more important because He did. I hope I will always marvel that the Son of God humbled Himself so. This passage to me is not a command... but it is not a suggestion either. God wants us to be this way because it's the way Jesus lived, not using His high position as something to wave over every one's head in a "Look what I've got!" manner. Instead, He willingly, knowledgeably put Himself under fishermen, government officials, His own disciples... why? Because He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, because He came to serve.
I know that I am not like Christ in this. I am closer to doing everything from selfishness and empty conceit than nothing selfishly as Jesus did! There are many times where I look out only for my own personal interests... everyone else can take care of themselves, thank you very much. Not that I necessarily think I am the best or look the best or anything like that. It's more about the way I do things. When I serve, do I serve with the heart of a servant? Am I speaking about the things of God in a way that bring Him glory or by my puffed up head am I really defaming Him? When I sing, am I doing it to be heard (though I'll admit, I don't do this often - I have a feeling I'm tone-deaf) or out of worship to God? Am I telling people I'll pray for them because it sounds so good or because I honestly care? Do I apologize because I know that it makes me look bad if I don't? Do I write things down and share things with people for the purpose of making me look like a very humble person, submissive to God's plan? (note: writing this is making me feel quite humble but [unfortunately] that doesn't mean I am humble...)
I will leave those questions rhetorical for now (as I said, I'm not that humble) but to myself they are already answered. I'm something of a people-pleasing individual and I think it's mostly because I'm afraid of what people would say if I just did my own thing. But I guess I am doing my own thing, or at least NOT doing God's thing when I look out for my own interests above the interests of others... even when the "others" in question don't have a clue and think I am being that servant.
Jesus didn't consider it a thing to be grasped.