Today I’m giving two translations of a well-known verse. One translation makes our lives look like the bullet-biting picture above. The other one gives us hope.
The verse is Philippians 2:4. First, the translation that makes life very hard for us, from the New International Version:
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Here is what’s so discouraging about this translation: It looks like we are not ever allowed to ever take some time for rest or something we simply enjoy doing; that would be selfish. We must be 100% dedicated to the service of others 24/7. We must bite the bullet.
The NIV translation is especially harmful for someone with a sensitive conscience. Reading it recently, I felt all beat up since I surely don’t measure up to it. How could I ever please Jesus? So, using the interlinear Bible1, I researched what the verse said in the original. The meaning is quite different!
The King James Version captures the original Greek meaning perfectly. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Of more recent translations, the New American Standard translation is spot on too: do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
So, I saw the Lord is not saying for me to never think of myself, but to think of myself in the right way.
All day long, Christ is present in us, via his Spirit. Both when we’re giving ourselves to help others and when we are enjoying personal downtime, we can still enjoy the presence of the Lord. For myself, that means the Lord is present even when spending an evening out listening to music at a jazz club.
Wonderfully, the desperate feeling that we must bite the bullet and hammer ourselves down or Jesus won’t like us starts to disappear!
Instead, since Jesus has given us a clean slate, then in all that we do, we know that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19b)