Minding My Own Business

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)

I know you have interests of your own. I’m sure they’re pretty important to you. That’s why they’re your interests. If you weren’t interested in them, they wouldn’t be interests in the first place.

I have my own interests too. They’re my interests because they’re pretty important to me. I spend a lot of time pursuing my interests, which is what you’re supposed to do. Interests are what you pursue. That’s how it works.

The problem here is one of definition. Your interests aren’t mine; they’re yours. My interests aren’t yours; they’re mine. If they were both of ours, they’d be our interests. That would be different. But most of the time my interests aren’t yours. And for sure most of the time your interests are definitely not mine. Most of the time I couldn’t care less about your interests. Yours may be good interests, fun interests, maybe even noble interests; but they’re still not my interests. I’m simply not interested in them even one little bit. If I were, then they’d be my interests, which they’re not. That’s how it works.

So when Paul tells me I should look out for my own interests, he’s stating the obvious. Of course I would look out for them. Like, duh. If I didn’t look out for them, then they wouldn’t be interests at all. And who’d look after non-interests? It’s logically impossible to do that. As soon as I look after them, they become interests. So even though Paul is being redundant, I appreciate that the Bible would remind me that I have, not only a logical obligation, but a religious obligation to look after my own interests. To be honest, I would have done so anyway (them being my interests, after all), but it’s nice to have God sign off on what I’m already inclined to do. This is a refreshing change from all those Biblical commands that go against my tendencies and which, because of that, I tend to ignore. I kind of like being ahead of the spiritual curve once in a while.

But when Paul hauls off and tells me I’m supposed to look after the interests of others, he’s skidding off into fuzzville as far as I’m concerned. Now, we’ve already established that it’s logically impossible to be interested in something I’m not interested in (ie: the interests of others). Maybe somebody who’s inspired by the Holy Spirit doesn’t have to make sense (as I’ve been told a few times), and I have no problem with that as long as the practitioners of nonsensical inspiration mind their own business. But when Paul tells me that I have to do something illogical, that’s a different thing entirely. This is one of those Bible commands that really goes against my personal vibe. Not only do I not care about the interests of others, I don’t want to care about them either. If I did care, they’d be my interests and we could call it good. The very fact that Paul has to tack this ditty on the butt-end of a perfectly logical command shows how shaky his grip on reality can be. But what can you expect from a Jewish apostle to the Gentiles? His boundaries are obviously a bit hazy.

Look, I’m already too busy looking after my own interests to be bothered with somebody else’s. I’ve got a stack of my own interests to get through just today, not to mention the ones scheduled for tomorrow and the rest of the week. I’m going to mind my own business. It’s all I’m interested in anyway. Why don’t you mind your own business too? It’s the least we can do for each other.

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