Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
Look out for the interests of another. It is a constant effort for us to be looking out for others rather than ourselves only. It is the “default” position to look out for yourself. It is a God inspired vision to be looking out for others.
I have found through talking with other people that the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is either endearing or repulsive. Seriously, as I have talked about my appreciation for that film (which is celebrating its 70th year of release on December 20th), the reactions are either one of genuine like, or strong distaste for the movie.
For the most part, people like the movie. Perhaps it’s the helpless romantic in many of us that love the story of George Bailey and the little upstate New York town of Bedford Falls. Perhaps for some the “helpless romantic” is in them somewhere but it lies dormant. And the likes of a 70- year old movie isn’t enough to draw it to the surface. Or, just maybe the movie touches the softy in some of us that does not want to be touched. Whatever the case, the movie received mixed reviews when it was released. It only has been over the past 40 years that it has become a staple in a distinctly American celebration of Christmas.
Philippians 2:4 teaches Christians that we are to look out for the interests of others, not simply our own. The message is one of considering another before ourselves. That is a Christian virtue. If I was to choose a verse that sums up “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Philippians 2:4 might just be the verse.
Consider how much selflessness was exhibited in the characters of the movie. Of Course, the main character stands out in the forefront. But, if we study the film a little closer, we would see the same attitude in George’s father, his wife Mary, Ernie the taxi driver, and of course Clarence Odbody, George’s guardian angel.
At the end of the movie the whole town, except for one grumpy old Mr. Potter, seems to catch the spirit of looking out for George, if not for Christmas, and ensures that George’s recent financial difficulties are covered.
And that is the joy of looking out for the interest of others. If everyone is doing it, then everyone is taken care of. The closing scene of the movie is iconic. It represents all that is good in the world, good that God brings when we seek to love others as we love ourselves.
I have noted through talking with the 80 plus members of town, those who can remember WWII, that there was a time when small towns and communities tended to behave like those in the mythical Bedford Falls. But, they quickly note that by the mid 1950’s that had all but gone. Where do we fund such community today?
Christians ought to provide a remedy to our present situation. For we are foolish to think that true community can be achieved in our work places, sporting events, or even social media. True community is Koinonia. This is a kind of brotherhood and sisterhood that is achieved when God comes in and brings new spiritual life to a person and puts that person in a community of persons, a community called the church. These persons are then the “body of Christ”, out doing one another in love and good works. Always looking out for the interests of others. This should spill over to the community at large. When Christian virtues are taught, and lived they seem to take on a life of their own. It spreads into the surrounding world where the church resides. May our churches resemble more of Bedford Falls and may a Bedford Falls spirit sprout in our town – for the Glory of Christ.