Do Not Be In Selfish Ambitions

Philippians 2:3-4 (New Living Translation)

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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.

Don’t think only of yourself, don’t try to gloat and show off to others. Instead be submissive and respectful, meek and do not degrade yourself thinking better of yourself but instead think of others as better then yourself. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Look into others attractions.


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Home Content Index Books of the Bible Philippians Selfish ambition and vain conceit


What does it mean to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Philippians 2:3)?


Philippians 2:3–4 says, “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 to the interests of the others.” Paul goes on to instruct the Philippians to have the same mindset as Jesus when relating to others, and he details just how humble Jesus was. What does it mean to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit?

First, let’s define a few terms. Selfish ambition can be understood as “motivation to elevate oneself or to put one’s own interests before another’s.” It is a self-above-others approach. The Greek term here carries with it a connotation of contentiousness. In fact, the King James Bible translates the word as “strife.” Vain conceit means “excessive pride” or “self-esteem that has no foundation in reality”; vain conceit is an elevated and incorrect sense of self. Therefore, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit means not letting our actions be motivated by selfishness, pride, or one-upmanship.

We can learn how to avoid acting out of selfish ambition or vain conceit by looking at the contrasting words in the same context. The opposite of being selfish and vain is to “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” (Philippians 2:3–4, ESV). We must learn to be others-focused, not self-focused. If we’re putting others first, we won’t be conceited or proud or overly ambitious. It’s hard to be self-important when we’re considering others as more important.

In Philippians 2:1–2 Paul writes, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” It is through understanding our salvation that we can live in unity with other believers and love them in Christ. The basis of our being like-minded and free of strife is four-fold: 1) we are united with Christ, 2) we are comforted with God’s love, 3) we have the same Spirit, and 4) we have been given tender compassion for others. When we truly see how much Christ has done for us and understand the fullness of His love, pride and selfishness melt away. Those who know the love of Christ do not wrangle for position within the family of God; rather, they recognize the purpose of the body of Christ and live it out. They are willing to take a lower place in order to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). They engage in Christian fellowship with a focus on loving God and others (Mark 12:30–31).

Philippians 2:3b–4 instructs believers to value others above themselves and look out for their interests. We do not elevate ourselves above others but willingly sacrifice in order to love them. When all believers act this way, we are of one mind and everyone is cared for. Paul gives similar instructions to the Galatians, counseling them to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and to do good to all, especially fellow believers (Galatians 6:10). Jesus was the epitome of servanthood. Shortly after washing His disciples’ feet, something usually done by the lowliest of servants, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35). Jesus’ love was self-sacrificial. He acted for the best of others rather than for His own glory (see Matthew 20:28).

In Philippians 2:5–11 Paul details Jesus’ example of humility. Jesus was “in very nature God, [yet] did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (Philippians 2:5). Rather, the Son of God became human. More than that, He humbled himself to the lowliest position and died a shameful criminal’s death in our place. How can we who follow such a Lord act in pride? When we consider what Christ did for us, we learn not to be so self-absorbed. Jesus promised that, as we seek to glorify God, our needs will be met (Matthew 6:25–34), so we can focus more on meeting the needs of others.

When we understand the incredible sacrifice, grace, and mercy of God on our behalf, we realize that we have no use for pride. When we recognize God’s abundant grace, provision, and love, we understand that we have no need for selfishness. We need not focus solely on our own interests because we rest in our Savior. We have been adopted into an eternal family, and we can learn to love that family as the Father loves us. Rather than be motivated by selfishness or pride, we can be of one mind with fellow believers and put their interests before our own.


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What does the Bible say about conceit / being conceited?

What does the Bible say about selflessness?

What does the Bible say about being self-centered?

What is the meaning of Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”?

What does Paul mean when he says he is “forgetting those things which are behind” (Philippians 3:13)?

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Questions about Philippians

What does it mean to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Philippians 2:3)?

◄ What Does Philippians 2:3 Mean? ►

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Philippians 2:3(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

There are certain threats that are common to all Christian churches that are identified at Philippi. One is the infiltration of false teachers whose outward appearance is that of a gentle lamb but inwardly are ravening wolves seeking to shed blood, destroy souls, and accumulate dishonest gain – and we are instructed to identify such teachers by their bitter fruit. The second problem is internal division, which endangers the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and love – between believers.

Paul antidote to most of the difficulties in Christian communion is to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit – but rather, in humility of heart valuing each other above ourselves.

These are simple instruction, but how difficult to achieve when ‘King Self’ is sitting on the throne of ones life. Humility of spirit, gentleness of disposition, love for each other and joy in the Lord are all the fruit of the Spirit, which burst forth in a life that is centred in Christ. Let us love one another, for love is of God.. and he who loves as Christ loved us is born of God and know Him. Paul’s earnest cry at the end of His life was, that I may know Christ – let this be our earnest desire today and for the rest of our lives.


What does Philippians 2:3 mean?

Following his focus on unity in the previous verse, Paul commands his readers to avoid acting in greediness or dishonesty. His goal was to remove focus from self to others. In this, Paul takes a slightly different approach than Christ’s statement to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36–40). Instead, he first addresses the motives of wrongful ambition and pride. When these drive our decisions, love and unity are not our true goals.

Instead, Paul taught that Christians ought to treat the needs of others as more important than our own, and other people as greater than us. By putting the needs of others first, believers pursue the kind of humility that leads to mutual love and unity. The emphasis was not on self, but on others. When this is achieved, the overall goal for humility is also met. Paul will continue this area of teaching by connecting it with the example of Jesus in the following verses (Philippians 2:6–11). Those who put others first exhibit Christ-like character through love and humility.

Context Summary

Philippians 2:1–5 connects the blessings of Christianity with corresponding results in a Christian’s life. We experience comfort, encouragement, love, and unity as saved believers in Christ. As a result, we ought to express comfort, encouragement, love, and unity to our fellow believers. Here again, Paul emphasizes that how a Christian thinks—how they frame their attitude—is crucial to living a Christian life. This sets up a classic description of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, starting in verse 6.

Chapter Summary

Paul describes Jesus Christ as one willing to be humble, in obedience to God the Father. For this, God will exalt Jesus’ name above all others. Someday, one way or another, all people will admit that Jesus Christ is Lord, and submit to Him. Paul wants the Philippian believers to live with contentment and unity, without complaining. Instructions are given regarding two visitors. The first is actually the one delivering this letter, Epaphroditus. The other is Timothy, Paul’s trusted friend, who hopefully will be visiting soo

Author: J. Palmer

Living under the wings of God and the angels around me keeping me going and safe. Sharing the love of Christ.

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