Recently I heard a good biblical example of the verse right before the part in Philippians 2 where it talks about how we should imitate the humility of Christ [2:5-11]. Right before this great section, also speaking about humility, is Philippians 2:3,4, which says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”
The NIV talks about how we should look at others’ ‘interests’ above our own ‘interests’. The ESV uses the word ‘preferences’, that we should look at others’ ‘preferences’ above our own ‘preferences’.
A sweet example of this from the Old Testament is when Abram and Lot are traveling together in Genesis 13 with their respective families & shepherds. There is some conflict between the shepherds of the two families, so Abram & Lot decide to go separate ways. Though Abram clearly should have the first choice of what land he wants to take, as he’s the leader of the group, he looks first to what Lot wants to do and lets Lot make the decision. Abram says that whatever direction Lot chooses, Abram will go the other way.
This story is a great picture of what Paul talks about in Phil. 2:4, that we should look at others’ ‘interests’ above our own ‘interests’.