“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
We live in a culture in which everyone looks out for himself. The things of others do not concern us. Here we are introduced to the opposite value.
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests”
This first phrase indicates the validity of looking out for our own interests. Paul was not asking for some supra-spiritual self-sacrifice where we do not manage the life God has given us. Believers should attend to their own business.
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8).
The word “look” means to mentally consider, to regard something as an aim. Some people are good at managing their own business; others are not. This word assumes that if we are good at managing our own business, we are to make it our aim to consider the interests of others.
“Own interests” is our own point of view. We are not to consider only our own point of view. We are not to look out only for our own things.
“but also for the interests of others”
When it comes to doing things for others, some people stop at nothing!
If all of us are looking out for each other (spiritual reciprocity), the whole will be better than the parts. Instead of disregarding each other’s interests, we instead help each other. We deliberately choose the interests of others. True Christian community is when we take a joint view of things.
This, however, does not mean that we are to be busybodies poking our nose where it does not belong.
The Christian has no right to live his life by the law of the jungle. If we live our Christian life in the community, we cannot simply look out for number one. Looking out for our own interests to the exclusion of others is the rule of the braggart and bully. The person who is others oriented looks for qualities and good points in fellow Christians.
Some believers compare everything to themselves. They measure all people and situations up against their own viewpoint. This verse says that we are to step out of our viewpoint so that we are no longer an island where we alone are sovereign. This is a root cause of disunity. An acid test of our Christian life is to love others who can be of no use to us.
The Bible does not hold to the doctrine of exclusive privacy of the individual; mutual reciprocity of interest in others is a Christian value.
The word “others” is a haunting word to us at the end of the twentieth century. “First come, first served” is not a Christian attitude. The Christian makes a place for others. How large is the circle of our prayers? Do we pray for “us four and no more”—only our family and very few others? A sign of spiritual maturity is that we are less concerned about ourselves in our prayer life. Do we look at things from the standpoint of others? Do we care about those who do not know Christ? Sharing Christ takes in the interests of others.